Surgical oncology is a specialized area of oncology that engages surgeons in the cure and management of cancer. Cancer has become a medical specialty warranting its own surgical area because of advances in biology, pathophysiology, diagnostics, and staging of malignant tumors. The surgical oncologist functions within a multidisciplinary team as a coequal partner with medical oncologists and radiation oncologists. The overriding function of this team is to communally devise an optimal treatment plan for each individual patient prior to the application of therapeutic components.
The surgical oncologist is specialty trained in combining advanced surgical care with appropriate adjuncts including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and ablative therapy, among many others. The surgical oncologist performs local tumor excision, regional lymph node removal, the handling of cancer recurrence (local or widespread), and in some cases, with surgical resection of metastases from the primary tumor.