The treatment of cancer using surgical procedures constitutes the speciality of surgical oncology..
The treatment of cancer using surgical procedures constitutes the speciality of surgical oncology. Removal of tumours and biopsies are the main responsibilities of surgical oncologists. However, they also perform several advanced procedures too. As the treatment of cancer has progressed to include several non-invasive procedures, practitioners of the speciality are expected to collaborate with other consultants and exhibit a multidisciplinary approach. Depending upon several factors such as the size, type, and grade of the tumour, surgical oncologists perform different procedures such as supportive, curative, or debulking after evaluating other treatment options. Several highly advanced surgical procedures such as reconstructive surgery, cytoreductive surgery, sarcoma surgery, isolated limb perfusion, liver resection and laparoscopic cancer surgery are also performed in special cases. Usually, cancerous growth in areas such as breast, throat, oesophagus, lungs, kidney, liver, skin, spine, uterus, colon, bone, and so on are treated by surgeons. The field has witnessed several advancements in recent years due to the increased focus on cancer research. This includes minimally invasive procedures such as laparoscopy, cryosurgery, laser surgery and robotic surgery. Other areas of focus include sentinel node diagnostic technique, reconstructive & restorative surgery, image-guided surgery, photodynamic therapy, and mechanical sutures. Development in telecommunication technologies has enabled surgeons to perform procedures from their clinic on patients far away. The use of artificial intelligence in analysing pre & post-surgical data is yet another promising research avenue.
The role of surgical oncologists today is to balance and integrate surgery with other treatment methods. Hence, such surgeons must possess in-depth knowledge and understanding of several areas and methodologies. The course Master of Chirurgiae in surgical oncology is designed in such a way to ensure students acquire multidisciplinary knowledge and skills. The syllabus of the course include areas such as cancer biology, essentials of molecular biology, epidemiology, environmental health, principles of cancer management, biochemistry of cancer, cancer chemotherapy, diet chemoprevention, tumour immunology, trauma and inflammations, cancer screening, cancer aetiology, tumour viruses & Hepatitis viruses, principles of dose, schedule and combination, cancer diagnosis – molecular pathology and cytology, specialized techniques, toxicology by organ system, chemotherapeutic agents, systemic oncology, clinical trials, seminars, research participation and clinical work. Students on completion of the course are expected to have acquired skills and qualities such as the ability to diagnose, care and control various forms of cancerous growths and tumours, the ability to assess the general condition and medical history of the patient and apply these while analysing and grading tumours, the clinical knowledge to evaluate the necessity of surgery with other specialists, the skills to perform several common and advanced invasive procedures and oversee rehabilitative care, the ability to integrate other treatment options in treatment and post-operative care, the presence of mind to manage clinical emergencies, effective communication skills to provide psychological support during end-of-life care, the ability to assimilate recent developments, train other medical professionals, and practice the speciality following ethical and legal guidelines.
Students may be subjected to need-based rotation in other departments. Further, they are expected to publish at least one research paper and keep a logbook during the duration of the course, which is three years. The coursework is rigorous and requires patience and hard work. Candidates possessing MD/DNB in general surgery are eligible to apply. Selection is based on marks obtained in entrance tests and interviews conducted by several institutions. After the completion of the course, students will have various career opportunities such as practising surgical oncologists, senior medical and surgical advisors, research associates or lecturers.