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Cardiothoracic Surgeon vs. Surgical Oncologist

Posted in: Articles December 20, 2016 By Stan Gottfredson Read by 61 Users

For diagnosing asbestos-related diseases and conditions, including mesothelioma, both a cardiothoracic surgeon and a surgical oncologist can provide you with effective surgical procedures such as biopsies aimed at determining the type of cells within the tumor and whether the growth is malignant. Although their work is quite similar, there are a series of differences which refer to the surgical interventions performed, their education and medical training, as well as the regions of the body the two doctors specialize in.

What Type of Surgical Procedures Can the Two Specialists Perform?

While a surgical oncologist’s area of expertise is very wide, the diagnostic and treatment methods of a cardiothoracic surgeon are restricted to the organs and tissues in the chest region:

  • A surgical oncologist’s expertise allows them to treat a wide variety of tumors, regardless of their location within the body. Moreover, a surgical oncologist can also assess a diagnosis by the use of certain types of biopsies.
  • A cardiothoracic surgeon is qualified to perform surgical procedures preponderantly in the chest area (operating on organs such as heart, lungs and esophagus). Due to their specialization, cardiothoracic surgeons may be the most suitable medical professionals for diagnosing pleural mesothelioma.

How Does a Biopsy Performed by a Surgical Oncologist Differ from the Intervention Employed by a Cardiothoracic Surgeon?

The surgical procedures provided by the two medical specialists are, in fact, quite similar. However, there are some significant differences as well:

  • During a biopsy performed by a surgical oncologist, a thin hollow needle is inserted directly into the mass in order to collect a small sample of tissue which will subsequently be sent to the laboratory for a careful examination. Occasionally, the doctor may be aided by imaging techniques such as X-rays or MRI during the procedure. Anesthesia is typically not required and the patient usually receives their results within two or three days.
  • Thoracoscopy, a biopsy technique frequently used by cardiothoracic surgeons, has an accuracy rate of 95-98% in identifying this malignant disease. The procedure involves the doctor making small incisions in the chest by using a thoracoscope in order to collect a small sample of cells from the tumor. General anesthesia is administered to the patient before the intervention.

What Are the Education Requirements of a Surgical Oncologist and a Cardiothoracic Surgeon’s?  

Another difference between surgical oncologists and cardiothoracic surgeons is related to their education and medical training:

  • The first need to complete their residency and obtain their certification following graduation.
  • The latter are required to undergo five years of residency training, as well as a three-year fellowship.

Therefore, although a cardiothoracic surgeon may be more suitable for diagnosis and treatment of pleural mesothelioma due to his/her expertise, the procedures performed by surgical oncologists often prove to be equally effective for this type of cancer, as well as for a large variety of other asbestos-related diseases and conditions. Both medical experts are well-trained in this respect and can ultimately provide you with multiple diagnosis and treatment approaches.