Surgical oncologists are surgeons with specialist interests and training in the management of cancer and related conditions.
Whilst many surgeons operate on patients with cancer, one of the main aims of surgical oncologists is to work closely with both surgical sub-specialties and other areas of non-surgical medical practice. This is known as a multidisciplinary framework – now internationally recognised as the standard of care for patients with cancer – and relies on co-ordination of surgery with medical and radiation oncologists, diagnostic specialties, such as pathology and radiology, together with input from cancer nurses and palliative care specialists.
Whilst it can be confusing, surgical oncologists are different to medical oncologists or radiation oncologists. Medical oncologists do not so surgery; they treat cancer by administering chemotherapy. Radiation oncologists, treat disease using radiation, rather than surgery. Commonly all three modalities are used to treat cancer and so coordination and management of care is critical.
Surgical oncology often involves complex operations for diagnosis and treatment of cancer as well surgery for as symptom management (e.g. bowel obstruction), cancer recurrence and/or insertion of devices to facilitate chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Surgical oncologists also work closely with plastic and reconstructive colleagues to get the best functional (and cosmetic) results.
Surgical oncology embraces a commitment to education and research collaborations that make a difference in the lives of cancer patients and provide access to the latest treatment and trials available.
In addition to Surgical Oncology, A/Prof Neuhaus is an Examiner of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and participates in the acute general surgery on-call roster at St Andrew’s hospital. You can read more about A/Prof Neuhaus here