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Article
June 1979

Is Surgical Oncology Really a Specialty?

Author Affiliations

Division of Surgical Oncology (Department of Surgery) and Cancer Center Medical College of Virginia Richmond, VA 23298

Arch Surg. 1979;114(6):659-661. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1979.01370300013001

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Abstract

There are a number of frequently asked questions relating to surgical oncology, such as, "What does a surgical oncologist do that a general surgeon cannot?" "Should all the cancer surgery now performed by general surgeons be carried out by surgical oncologists?" Or, "Is this just another subspecialty designed to further reduce the scope of activity of the true general surgeon?" It is extremely difficult to answer these and related questions to the satisfaction of all, since the concept of the role of the surgical oncologist is not agreed on with unanimity. A description of this type of surgeon would have as many variations as in the classic story of the group of blind men who described an elephant, based on palpation of various parts of its anatomy by the multiple observers. Nevertheless, an attempt will be made to give one surgeon's view of the status of this field within the

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