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  • Latest generation techniques, like robotic surgery, minimally invasive or image guided surgery and hepatic chemosaturation have changed the surgical approach to cancer.
  • Experts want Surgical Oncology to be considered a clinical specialty in its own right to promote specific advanced training for all surgical specialists involved in a multidisciplinary approach to cancer and focused on research.
  • Dr. Santiago Gonzalez Moreno, Surgical Coordinator at MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid, has been appointed president of the Spanish Society of Surgical Oncology.


“Surgical Oncology is not just operating, but is also knowing the tumor and the disease in depth to be able to apply the right surgical techniques at the right time and to combine these with other therapeutic modalities”. This is how Dr. Santiago Gonzalez Moreno, Surgical Coordinator at MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid, defines surgical oncology on the occasion of the recently held III Congress of the Spanish Society of Surgical Oncology (SEOQ) in Alicante.

The meeting, which gathered over 250 specialists in the field of cancer, served to update standards in state-of-the-art surgical treatment of cancer and to deal with all the novelties in therapy and surgical techniques that are now being applied in leading cancer centers.

“Robotic surgery, minimally invasive surgery in general, image guided surgery and hepatic chemosaturation or HIPEC are latest generation techniques that have caused a revolution in the surgical approach to cancer”, states Dr. Gonzalez Moreno, who was appointed president of the SEOQ during the congress. Among the speakers, experts in surgical oncology, medical oncology and radiation oncology, were top international specialists like Drs. Paul Sugarbaker from the Washington Cancer Institute and Richard H. Alexander from the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, and Spanish experts like Dr. Carlos Nuñez, Drs. Cabañas, J. Carlos Viera, Pilar Lopez Criado and Gloria Ortega from MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid.

Throughout the debate sessions, conferences, plenary sessions and scientific communications taking place over the 2-day congress the specialists stressed the importance of personalizing cancer surgery to achieve the best results. “Each patient can require a different sequence of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Personalization is based on each individual case being analyzed at a multidisciplinary session at which all the cancer specialists involved in treating the patient, whether they are surgical, medical or radiation specialists, can draw up an individual treatment plan that includes a combination of therapies applied in a specific sequence”, explains the MD Anderson Cancer Center specialist.

For that reason, the multidisciplinary approach is key to the whole strategy: “it is true that when choosing the best approach, surgical oncologists, medical oncologists and radiation therapists must be involved. But a pathologist must also be involved to determine the biological characteristics of the tumor and to determine its state of aggressiveness, a radiologist to help define the extent of the tumor and other specialists like oncology nurses or nutritionists, among others." says Dr. Gonzalez Moreno.


The need for a sub-specialty in Surgical Oncology

Although in Spain surgical oncology is not considered a specialty, experts insist on the need to foment specific training on the knowledge, investigation and treatment of cancer for all surgical specialists whose preferred line of work or whose exclusive interest is oncology.

“In countries like the Netherlands, USA, Brazil or Argentina, surgical oncology is a specialty clearly differentiated from general surgery. Furthermore, in the EU, the Surgical Oncology Division of the European Board of Surgery independently evaluates and accredits intellectual capacity and practice within the discipline, and to which Spain has historically contributed one of the highest percentages of candidates.  Therefore, at the SEOQ, in addition to defending the need to create a sub-specialty or its own specific training area, we develop courses and congresses like this today to help foment better practices in the surgical approach to cancer”, concludes Dr. Gonzalez Moreno.

With over thirty years’ history behind it, the Spanish Society of Surgical Oncology is currently made up some 300 associates and aims to foment knowledge and the development of surgical oncology, to draw up a research and teaching program for the discipline, to publish their progress and advances for the medical sector and to establish contacts with companies, leagues, associations or societies of the same or different status, either Spanish or foreign.