Surgical Oncology

The scope of surgical oncology is vast.  There are oncosurgeons who operate the entire range of operable cancers, and there are oncosurgeons who specialize in organ specific cancer surgery. There are cancer surgeons who operate only on breast cancer and some cancer surgeons limit themselves to the head and neck only. In the leading cancer centers in the world, surgeons generally restrict themselves to one organ system only.

Surgery is an integral part of most cancer treatments. Surgery when done upfront is with curative intent. The mandate the surgeon bears is to remove the affected organ, the draining lymph nodes, and any other affected areas. Cancer surgery is extensive surgery. Quite frequently surgery may follow radiation or chemotherapy or both. These two modalities may help to reduce the extent of surgery and make cancer more operable.   Cancer surgery now is both open and laparoscopic, the results being nearly identical in both the methods.  However, not all cancers may be operable by the laporoscopy route. Open cancer surgery is more easily available, and almost every cancer hospital has the facility and expertise for it. Robotic surgery for cancer is also gaining ground very fast.

Surgery also has a large role in the palliative setting. A tracheostomy is done to relieve obstruction in the upper airway and help the patient to breathe  Surgery also creates alternative feeding passages and alternative channels to help the patient pass stool and urine. Palliative cancer surgery may be utilized to tie a bleeding vessel and to relieve intestinal obstruction in abdominal malignancies.