A surgical oncologist is a trained surgeon who has pursued advanced training in the treatment of oncology. In most cases, this advanced training comes in the form of a post-residency fellowship aimed at training the surgery in other oncologic treatment modalities such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy as well as state-of-the-art surgical procedures. Surgical Oncology has recently been recognized by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) as the first approved fellowship program and 35 individuals were recognized as ACVS Founding Fellows in Surgical Oncology (see: Founding Fellows). Surgery is the oldest treatment for cancer and, as a single modality, cures more animals and people with cancer than any other treatment.
A similar situation exists in human medicine. There is an increasing effort for surgical oncology to be recognized as a separate specialty and with good reason. The surgeon has a central role in the prevention, diagnosis, and definitive treatment of neoplastic diseases, and palliation and rehabilitation of cancer patients. Compared to a general surgeon, a surgical oncologist has training and current knowledge of tumor biology and, importantly, the role of surgery in the multimodality treatment of cancer, particularly radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Because surgical oncologists treat a greater volume of cancer patients and have more experience in the management of both rare and common tumors, the outcome for patients treated by surgical oncologists are significantly better than those treated by general surgeons.