About the CE

Complex General Surgical Oncology Certifying Exam

  • The CGSO Certifying Examination is the last step toward board certification in complex general surgical oncology. It is an oral exam consisting of, as of 2019, 4 consecutive 30-minute sessions, each conducted by a team of 2 examiners.
  • Topics that may be covered in the exam (not all topics will be covered in each candidate's exam):
  • Melanoma
  • Sarcoma
  • Peritoneum
  • Clinical Trials
  • Breast
  • Genetics
  • Rehabilitation
  • Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary
  • Endocrine
  • Head and Neck
  • Stomach
  • Thoracic
  • Small Bowel
  • Colorectal
  • Appendix
  • Gynecology
  • The exam's purpose is to evaluate a candidate's clinical skills in organizing the diagnostic evaluation of common problems in complex general surgical oncology and determining appropriate therapy. Emphasis is placed on candidates' ability to use their knowledge and training to safely, effectively and promptly manage a broad range of clinical problems.
  • The exam is designed to measure a candidate's surgical judgment, clinical reasoning skills and problem-solving ability. Technical details of operations may also be evaluated, as well as issues related to a candidate's ethical behavior and humanistic qualities. The exam's contents are copyrighted and may not be reproduced or disclosed in any manner.

Exam Registration

  • Upon passing the CGSO Qualifying Exam, candidates are admissible to the CGSO Certifying Exam and will be asked to register online for the next exam. The exam is held annually during the winter in a major U.S. city (see Dates & Fees).
  • Active duty military personnel who may encounter difficulty taking the exam due to their service should contact the ABS as soon as possible.

The Examiners

  • The exam is conducted by members of the Surgical Oncology Board of the American Board of Surgery and by other nationally recognized experts. All examiners are in active practice, currently certified by the ABS, and participating in the ABS Continuous Certification Program. The ABS makes every effort to avoid any conflicts of interest between candidates and their examiners.

Exam Opportunities

  • Candidates are offered 5 opportunities within a 5-year period to pass the CGSO Certifying Exam. If a candidate decides not to take the exam in a given year, it is a lost opportunity as the five-year limit is absolute. Exceptions will only be made for active duty military service outside the United States. The five-year period begins immediately upon successful completion of the CGSO Qualifying Exam.
  • Candidates who have exhausted their five-year admissibility period should contact the exam coordinator regarding the readmissibility requirements in effect at that time.

Exam Results & Continuous Certification

  • Results are posted within 7 business days after the last day of the exam. Successful examinees will be deemed certified in CGSO and will receive their official certificate within 6 months. They must thereafter participate in the ABS Continuous Certification Program to maintain their certificate. The ABS will waive 60 credits of CME with self-assessment toward Continuous Certification for this certification; the waiver will appear automatically in your CME Repository.
  • Surgeons who achieve ABS certification may also apply to the AMA to receive 60 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Please see the AMA website and the direct CME application (pdf) for details.
  • Unsuccessful examinees with remaining opportunities will be contacted prior to the next exam; a new application is not necessary.

For specific inquiries, please send an email to the exam coordinator.