Surgical Oncologist

Perform surgery on patients with cancer.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
~ $215,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Surgical Oncologists do?

Oncologists study, diagnose, and treat patients who have cancer. There are myriad types of cancer, so there are Oncologists specializing in just about every form of the disease. Surgical Oncologists earn their paycheck by treating cancer through surgery.

As a Surgical Oncologist, you’re a General Surgeon whose job overlaps with those of Colorectal Surgeons, Neurosurgeons, Spine Surgeons, and other Surgeons who remove organs or tissues infected with cancer. In fact, because all of you deal with cancer, you all qualify as Surgical Oncologists. However, a true Surgical Oncologist has undergone three years of specialized training beyond that of the General Surgeon.

That additional training allows you to focus solely on performing surgery to remove cancerous tissue and malignant tumors from the body. Common forms of cancer that you treat include breast, colon, spine, lung, ovarian, uterine, liver, pancreatic, skin, colon, and brain cancer.

Patients have the option to use a General Surgeon, who, in fact, still performs most of those surgeries. The advantage of coming to you is obvious, though: You have more training. Then again, many General and specialty Surgeons learn the same things on the job, so there’s some debate on whether Surgical Oncologists are really necessary.

Most patients, and even Doctors, agree, though, that having you perform specialized surgery is a benefit to the patient. And because this is a relatively new area of specialty within the surgery world, there are sufficient employment opportunities.

Should I be a Surgical Oncologist?

You should have a doctoral degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Calm Under Pressure: You keep your cool when dealing with highly stressful situations.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Ready for a Challenge: You jump into new projects with initiative and drive.

  • Also known as: Surgical Endoscopist

    How to become a Surgical Oncologist

    Most Surgical Oncologists have a Doctorate. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aaaaa9&chl=|||bachelor%27s+%281%25%29||doctorate+%2899%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,99
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