Our surgeons provide comprehensive care within a multidisciplinary team, specializing in conventional, complex and laparoscopic treatment of tumors, including use of experimental therapies and advanced surgical techniques.

Kenneth Tanabe, MD, in the operating room
Kenneth Tanabe, MD

The Division of Surgical Oncology in the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Surgery offers cancer screening, cancer treatment and follow-up care for patients with benign and malignant tumors at the Mass General Cancer Center.

Our surgical oncologists have undergone specialty training in oncology and offer a high degree of specialization and expertise. Cancer surgery is generally considered complex, and published data have demonstrated that hospitals and surgeons with the highest volume experience with specific operations have the lowest complication and death rates. Recognizing the relationship between frequency of performing an operation and outcome, each surgeon in the Division of Surgical Oncology focuses his or her clinical practice on the management of one or two diseases. All surgeons in the Division of Surgical Oncology are on the faculty at Harvard Medical School and regularly teach other physicians in continuing medical education courses.

Collaborative Care Team

The surgical oncology practice is physically located within the Cancer Center. Surgical oncologists work closely with a team of physicians in the Cancer Center, including medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, plastic/reconstructive surgeons, genetic counselors, oncology nursing staff and social workers to develop individualized cancer treatment plans.

Patients treated by surgical oncologists benefit from both the discussion of their treatment plans by multidisciplinary care teams, as well as through access to innovative treatment protocols. Clinical trials to assess new cancer treatment regimens are available to patients at the Mass General Cancer Center, and include all clinical trials available to patients at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through a completely integrated clinical trials program.

Comprehensive Clinical Services

The Division of Surgical Oncology provides both inpatient and outpatient clinical services. Surgical oncologists offer a breadth of diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, including:

  • Fine needle aspiration of tumors for rapid diagnosis
  • Specialized imaging and lymphatic mapping for breast cancer and melanoma
  • Radiofrequency ablation of liver tumors, where heat is used to target cancer cells
  • Laparoscopic treatment of cancer
  • Intraoperative radiation therapy and brachytherapy, treatment options where radiation may take place during surgical procedures
  • Rectal cancer surgery that avoids removing sections of the colon

A wide variety of educational and support services are available for patients and their families as they go through cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery. The Division of Surgical Oncology specializes in the following clinical programs: