Difference between a Surgeon and Surgical Oncologist - Choose right for your cancer

By DCode Care Team | November 23rd 2021

Difference between a surgeon and surgical oncologist | Dcode Care

The entire journey of a cancer patient revolves around making smart and weighed decisions that lead to recovery. Cancer treatment costs in India are high for the common man. Finding the best cancer treatment in Bangalore at the right price can be difficult.

Moreover, finding a cancer specialist for treatment involves an important step - having knowledge about the various cancer specialists and their role in your treatment. A doctor who treats cancer is called an Oncologist.

There are three types of oncologists who are needed to treat cancer 1) A surgical oncologist 2) A medical oncologist and 3) A Radiation Oncologist. As a general rule, you have to start cancer treatment by taking a surgical opinion first, which means you have to consult a surgical oncologist first. He will decide which other oncologists you need to complete your treatment.

How to choose right oncologist for your cancer

Not all Surgeons are Cancer Surgeons

In this article, you will learn about the difference between a general surgeon and surgical oncologist. Understanding this is important so you can choose the right onco surgeon for your cancer treatment.

Difference between a Surgeon and a Surgical Oncologist

All surgeons are doctors who are qualified to operate. But not all surgeons are qualified to operate on cancer. There is an important difference between a general surgeon and a surgical oncologist.

General Surgeon

  • A surgeon specializes in performing surgeries or operative procedures in various parts of the body. Mostly, they are trained to perform general surgeries which are less complex in nature.
  • They perform surgical treatments for conditions that are mostly non-fatal. These operations are simple and don’t require specialized training.
  • All MBBS doctors in India are licensed, general surgeons. It's considered a very basic qualification.

Surgical Oncologist

  • A surgical oncologist undergoes 2-3 years of certification and rigorous training for advanced cancer surgical and non-surgical treatments such as Chemotherapy and Radiation therapy.
  • They have extensive knowledge and training about whether the diagnosed cancerous growth of tumor or node in a patient would only require surgical treatment or additional cancer treatments too.
  • They have a better understanding of how deep the surgical cut should be, which nodes and cells need to be removed, and perform surgery that ensures that cancer does not return.
  • Many Surgical Oncologists are site-specific surgeons. It means that some surgical oncologists have super-specialization in treating and removing cancer from a specific body part where cancer has developed. E.g. breast onco-surgeons, gynecological onco-surgeons, urological onco-surgeon, head and neck onco-surgeons etc.
  • A surgical oncologist would mostly practice cancer surgeries. This gives them exposure and experience in treating cancers through surgery. Unlike general surgeons who operate on any disease that is simple.
  • A surgical oncologist is an active part of cancer research centres that focus on investigating the growth of cancerous cells in different body parts, how they could differ in every person, and its prospective treatment or remedy.

In India, many general surgeons operate on cancer. As a patient you don’t have a way to know if the surgeon is formally qualified as an oncology surgeon or is only a general surgeon. Contact our counselor to discuss your case. We can guide you to genuine well-qualified onco surgeons for your case.

What are Site-Specific Surgeons?

The cancerous growth could appear in any part of the body, and this is one of the most unfortunate prevailing facts associated with the disease. Depending on your cancer site/body part, you should consider treatment from a site-specific surgeon who is doing dedicated work in treating cancers of a body part.

They would either work to remove cancer with surgical methods or control the spread of the disease by involving a radiation or medical oncologist based on the cancer type, complexity, and stage.

Talking to a site-specific oncology surgeon would benefit you to identify:

  • The stage of your cancer growth and whether or not it is developing in a complex area with the help of biopsies.
  • You could discuss possible treatment options that are suitable and effective for your condition that lead to faster recovery.
  • They work towards improving the situation by removing the appropriate cancer cells or tumors. For instance, a breast surgical oncologist specializing in breast cancer would know precisely the site where the tumor or lymph nodes could occur in the breast. They are skilled in performing procedures like lumpectomy or mastectomy and would be mindful of not removing any healthy tissue around the infected area. They also need to remove adequate amount around the tumor to ensure no cancer cells are left behind after surgery.

Bangalore is amongst those cities that offer a myriad of options for finding onco surgeons that provide the best cancer treatment. However, as a patient or caregiver, searching for the best oncologist in Bangalore could be confusing.

You can speak to our patient counselors to find site-specific oncosurgeons suitable for your case. We maintain records of oncosurgeons experience, specialisation, and advanced training. Our counselors suggest the best oncology surgeon for your specific case. Here is a list of the different types of site-specific onco surgeons:

  • Breast Onco Surgeons
  • Gynecologist Onco Surgeons
  • Head & Neck Onco Surgeons
  • Urologic Onco Surgeons
  • Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Oncosurgeons (HPB)
  • Gastrointestinal Onco Surgeons
  • Neurosurgeons for Brain & Spine tumors
  • Ortho Onco Surgeons
  • Hematologic Onco Surgeons for Blood Cancer

Types of Surgical Treatments

While choosing the expert for treating your cancer, you would want to be thorough with the surgical oncologists’ certifications and training. These treatment certifications make them the best oncology surgeons and ensure better treatment outcomes with fewer side effects. A site-specific onco surgeon might use a combination of the below surgical techniques or a specific one out of these three.

Choose the right cancer surgery

Open Surgery

Open Surgery involves the surgical oncologist making a large incision or cut at a certain level of depth to either remove the entire tumor or part of it. At times, they would also remove the healthy tissue surrounding the margins of the affected area, which might turn into cancer cells in the future.

Laparoscopic surgery

Laparoscopic surgery involves the onco surgeon making a few small cuts, post which they would insert the laparoscope. It is a thin tube with a camera attached to it, which helps look inside the affected area. While the one incision has a laparoscope inserted, the surgeon would insert his surgical tools through other incisions and treat or remove the malignant tumor/nodes surrounding healthy tissue.

Robotic Surgery

Robotic Surgery involves a surgical procedure where the oncologists perform the process much similar to laparoscopy; however, the only difference is using a computer console that controls the surgical tools inside the incision and removes the malicious tumor.

How to find the right Cancer Hospital in Bangalore?

The decision to find the right cancer hospital is driven by two factors, 1) Stage of Cancer and 2) Complexity of Cancer regardless of the stage. They are primarily determining aspects that would help you find an affordable and quality cancer treatment care option.

How to find the right cancer hospital in Bangalore

Early stage cancers or Less Complex Cancers:

If a cancer is in the early stage and is in a body part that is easy to access and operate, not in a vital organ then smaller 50-100 bed private hospitals can treat it, and the cost of undergoing surgery in such hospitals is lower. It could be breast, prostate, gynaecologic, thyroid, oral or certain gastrointestinal cancer.

Mid-size hospitals are well equipped to treat all simple cancers effectively. These hospitals have oncologists who operate at lower rates hence the cost of cancer treatment is less and the quality of treatment is good.

Advanced Stage cancers or Complex Cancers.

If the cancer is in a later stage and is in a body part that is difficult to access and operate, larger centres and comprehensive outlets are needed. The cost would then increase significantly. It could be gastrointestinal, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, lung, brain and blood cancer.

Large comprehensive cancer centers are usually ideal for all complex cancers. They need advanced equipment and many more specialists to treat complex cancer properly. Overall cost of treatment for complex cancers is higher and treatment at these centers is expensive.

Based on these factors, the cost of surgery may vary, we hope the matrix below makes the
information easy to understand:

Treatment in affordable mid-size centers vs Treatment in large cancer centers (in INR)

Our team has also put together a list of best onco-surgeons in Bangalore, our patient counselors are always available to give you more information and ease out your surgery decisions.

Our Patient Testimonials

Mr. Mukesh and Mr. Nandakumar dedicated cancer caregivers reached out to us to ease their decision for choosing onco-surgeons.

Patient Testimonials

For any more clarifications about Site-Specific best oncologist in Bangalore , please get in touch with us at DCode Care.

We put our patients and their caregivers at the centre of the treatment journey. The interests, abilities and financial situations of the patients are important factors to weigh in while choosing the right hospital for treatment.