Why are surgical oncologists better for diagnosing and treating cancer than general surgeons?

Surgical Oncologists are specially trained to diagnose and treat cancer through three main stages: Identification and Diagnosis, Surgery, and Post-Surgery. 

Identification and Diagnosis: During the identification and diagnosis stages, surgical oncologists are trained to better recognize malignancies and manage care for their patients. Because of their specific expertise, surgical oncologists are better at understanding the how to discover specific cancers while developing an in-depth plan for treating them.

Surgery: Once the diagnosis has been made, if necessary, a surgery will be performed. Since surgical oncologists have specialized in performing surgeries on cancer patients their outcomes have been proven to be statistically higher than those of general surgeons.

Post-Surgery: After a successful surgery is performed your surgical oncologist will create an in-depth plan to reduce post-surgery risks by preventing further recurrences, increase your well being, and lessen your recovery time. 

What is a Surgical Oncologist?

Now many of you may be wondering what exactly is a surgical oncologist. In short, a surgical oncologist is a surgeon who specializes in the surgical treatment of cancer and malignant diseases. One of the reasons why there there is confusion over what a surgical oncologist does is due to a considerable overlap between what surgical oncologists do and what general surgeons do. While many surgical oncologists are in fact general surgeons, I am also a surgical oncologist as most surgical oncologists do a general surgery residency first and then a surgical oncology fellowship afterwards. Of course, becoming a surgical oncologist is not easy, mainly because a general surgical residency is a minimum of five years. If one decides to do research during their residency, then the general surgery is often times between six and seven years. After the completion of a general surgery program, the surgical oncology fellowship is three more years, and therefore we have extensive experience with not only general surgery but surgical oncology as well.

It’s important to note that a surgical oncologist is different from a medical oncologist or a radiation oncologist. Medical oncologists do not perform surgeries. Instead, they treat cancer by administering chemotherapy. However, for cancers that require a complex operation to remove them, such as pancreatic cancer or liver tumors requiring large liver resections, you are most often better off working with a surgical oncologist as they have been statistically proven to increase long term survival rates in cancer related surgeries than general surgeons who perform those same surgeries on patients.