April 28, 2011
The American Board of Surgery (ABS) has received approval to offer a new subspecialty certificate in complex general surgical oncology. It was approved in late March by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the umbrella organization for the ABS and the 23 other recognized U.S. medical specialty boards. The certificate was established to assess qualifications for the treatment of complex cases typically seen in cancer centers and specialized institutions, while recognizing that the vast majority of surgical oncology cases are, and will continue to be, treated by general surgeons practicing in the community.
The certificate will be offered to graduates of two-year training programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), following completion of general surgery residency. These programs will develop surgeons with specific knowledge of the diagnosis, multidisciplinary treatment and rehabilitation of patients with rare, unusual or complex cancers. In addition, the surgeons will be capable of providing community outreach in cancer prevention and conducting cancer research. The Residency Review Committee for Surgery of the ACGME is currently developing the formal training requirements. The first training programs will likely be approved in the 2011-2012 academic year, with a possible first exam in the fall of 2012.
The ABS believes that the introduction of this new subspecialty certificate, by establishing high and uniform standards, will improve the care of cancer patients with complex cases requiring intensive, multidisciplinary treatment. Patients will also benefit by having the training programs accredited by the ACGME, which ensures consistent standards for all programs.
The certificate effort was led by the Society for Surgical Oncology (SSO) in concert with the ABS' Surgical Oncology Advisory Council (SOAC). SOAC will be responsible for developing the exams required for certification and overseeing the certification process. Candidates for certification in complex general surgical oncology will be required to first obtain ABS certification in general surgery. Further information about the new certificate and its requirements will be posted on the ABS website in the coming months.
"This certificate opens a new chapter in the history of the American Board of Surgery," said Dr. Fabrizio Michelassi, SOAC chair. "The certificate will recognize individuals who have received ACGME-approved training in the diagnosis and multidisciplinary treatment of patients with rare, complex and recurrent cancers, as well as training in community outreach and clinical research. As current SSO-approved fellowships graduate only 50 surgical oncologists each year, the number of surgeons who will be eligible for this certificate is relatively small. Thus, we foresee that this certificate will have minimal impact on the ongoing delivery of cancer care by practicing general surgeons."
The American Board of Surgery is an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1937 for the purpose of certifying surgeons who have met a defined standard of education, training and knowledge. The ABS offers board certification in general surgery, vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, surgical critical care, surgery of the hand, hospice and palliative medicine, and complex general surgical oncology. It is one of the 24 member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties.