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 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 purpose of the exam is to evaluate clinical skills in the evaluation of patients with complex general surgical oncology problems, and in 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.
Next Exam: Feb. 12-14, 2024 - Virtual

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 (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

The admissibility period for the CE begins immediately upon successful completion of the Complex General Surgical Oncology Qualifying Exam (QE). Candidates are strongly encouraged not to delay taking the CE for the first time as such delays may adversely affect performance.

Current Candidates:

  • Candidates who complete fellowship in the 2018-2019 academic year or thereafter will have no more than 7 academic years following fellowship to complete the certification process, including passing the CE. The 7-year period begins immediately upon completion of training.
  • These candidates will be granted up to 3 opportunities within a 3-year period to pass the CGSO Certifying Exam. The three-year period begins immediately upon successful completion of the CGSO Qualifying Exam.
  • If a candidate decides not to take the exam in a given year, it is a lost opportunity as the three-year limit is absolute. See our exam admissibility policy for further details.
  • Primary certification in Surgery is a requirement for certification in Complex General Surgical Oncology, and is part of the application process. Delays in completing initial certification in surgery will delay the CGSO application, and therefore diminish the number of available attempts to take the CGSO exam. It is highly recommended that you attain certification in Surgery BEFORE the end of your CGSO fellowship.

Prior Policy:

  • Individuals who completed training prior to July 1, 2018, were granted up to 5 opportunities within a 5-year period.
  • Only one opportunity per academic year will be granted to all candidates. All of the above limits are absolute; exceptions will only be made for active duty military service outside the U.S. Candidates who have exhausted their three-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 2-3 weeks after the last day of the exam. Successful examinees will be deemed certified in CGSO and will receive their official certificate once all results have been processed and validated, examinees have been informed, mailing addresses have been confirmed and all information has been provided to the printing company. 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.