What is surgical oncology? 

Surgical oncology is a branch of oncology in which tumors – and potentially nearby tissues – are removed to help treat cancer.  

What conditions do surgical oncologists treat? 

Surgical oncologists can treat solid tumors (i.e., not blood cancers). Some of the types of cancer most commonly treated by surgical oncologist include: 

  • Breast cancer 
  • Colon cancer 
  • Gallbladder cancer 
  • Kidney cancer 
  • Liver cancer 
  • Lung cancer 
  • Pancreatic cancer 
  • Prostate cancer 
  • Skin cancer 
  • Thyroid cancer 
  • Uterine cancer 

What services does surgical oncology offer? 

  • Biopsies to diagnose cancer 
  • Cancer prevention, such as preventive mastectomy  
  • Surgeries to remove tumors, including curative surgery (when the whole tumor is removed) and debulking (removing part of a tumor) 
  • Palliative surgery, which eases symptoms such as pain 
  • Reconstructive surgery after surgery to remove tumors 

What should I expect during my first visit? 

You might first see a surgical oncologist before your cancer is even diagnosed. This is because surgical oncologists often perform biopsies to help diagnose cancer or see how far it has spread. 

When you first meet with your surgical oncologist after a cancer diagnosis, they’ll explain your treatment options and help you decide which is best for you. Once you make a decision, they’ll schedule your surgery. 

What should I expect as I continue to receive care? 

Once you, your surgeon, and the rest of your care team decide on a course of treatment, you’ll get instructions for your surgery. The next time you see your surgeon will be on the day of the surgery itself.  

Before your surgery, they’ll make sure you’re prepared correctly and that everything is ready for them. After your surgery, the surgeon will give you an update on how the surgery went and what your next steps are. 


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