Article Abstract

Training and certification of the surgical oncologist

Authors: Russell S. Berman, Ronald J. Weigel


Surgical Oncology has evolved as a distinct subspecialty of General Surgery with a well-defined curriculum focused on surgical care of the cancer patient, specific areas of clinical and basic science research focus and specialty journals dedicated to the discipline. The Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO), originally formed as the James Ewing Society, has provided leadership in developing training programs in Surgical Oncology and for three decades has been involved in the approval and oversight of Surgical Oncology training programs. Over this time, Surgical Oncology Fellowship training has expanded and in 2013 there were 103 applicants for 56 fellowship positions in 21 programs. The basic tenants of Surgical Oncology training has remained devoted to the core principles of multidisciplinary care, surgical management of cancer patients and a focus on education in research, clinical trials, community outreach, patient advocacy and leadership in oncology. With the maturation of Surgical Oncology as a separate specialty, Surgical Oncology training programs are now accredited by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and graduates of the programs will soon be offered subspecialty certification in Complex General Surgical Oncology (CGSO) by the American Board of Surgery, which has created a component Surgical Oncology Board (SOB). Similar expansion has occurred in other specialty areas including an expansion of Breast Fellowships, which are still being approved by the SSO. In the 2013 SSO Breast Oncology Match, there were 67 applicants for 54 positions in 39 Breast Fellowship programs. Continued advances in cancer biology and technology will challenge us to evolve training programs in Surgical Oncology to produce surgeons capable of advancing the multidisciplinary care of cancer patients.