Surgical oncology is not a well-defined discipline because of the variety of surgical specialties that are based on disease site or organ site, and, therefore, this discipline differs from radiation oncology and medical oncology, which allow application of their respective modalities to a wide variety of anatomic sites. Nevertheless, surgical resection is the single most successful modality in curing cancer. Generally, the role of surgical oncology can be defined as fulfilling the following objectives:
- Definitive surgical treatment for localized malignancies, based on a careful staging diagnostic procedure.
- Knowledge of, and ability to, consult with other modalities in choosing adjuvant therapy preoperatively and postoperatively.
- Reconstruction and rehabilitation of resected organs.
- For an unresectable tumor, providing debulking of residual cancer to improve effectiveness of other modes of treatment.
- Surgery for palliation and for some oncologic emergencies.
About surgical oncology
Surgical oncology is a cancer care field that focuses on using surgery to diagnose stage and treat cancer. Surgical oncologists may also perform palliative surgeries to help control pain, increase a patient’s comfort level and manage cancer-related symptoms and side effects.
Whether a patient is a candidate for surgery depends on factors such as the type, size, location, grade and stage of the tumor, as well as issues related to the patient’s health, including age, physical fitness and other medical conditions.
Many patients may have cancer surgery combined with other treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and/or hormone therapy. Nonsurgical treatments may be administered before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy) or after surgery (adjuvant therapy) to help prevent cancer growth, metastasis or recurrence.
Depending on the type of cancer, the size of the tumor and its location, surgery may be performed using minimally invasive techniques, such as laparoscopy. Other conditions may require open surgeries, which are more invasive and have larger incisions. A surgical oncologist may work with other doctors and clinicians to help reduce pain and other side effects and speed recovery from surgery.
Oncology is a branch of medicine that deals with tumors (cancer).
Oncology is concerned with:
- The diagnosis of any cancer in a person
- Therapy (e.g. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy & other modalities)
- Follow-up of cancer patients after successful treatment
- Palliative care of patients with terminal malignancies
- Ethical questions surrounding cancer care
- Screening efforts:- of populations, or – of the relatives of patients (in types of cancer that are thought to have a hereditary basis, such as breast cancer)
Dr. Saravanan – DNB, MRCS, MCH.