Published on March 27, 2018

Q&A: Surgical oncology

with Carmine Volpe, MD

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, they may be treated by a variety of doctors with different specialties. One of those might be a surgical oncologist.

Carmine VolpeCarmine Volpe, MD, is Director for Oncology and a surgical oncologist. Here he answers some questions about what that means.

What is a surgical oncologist?

An oncologist is a doctor who treats cancer. A surgical oncologist treats tumors by removing them surgically. That’s different from a medical oncologist, who treats cancer with chemotherapy or other medicines. It’s also different from a radiation oncologist, who treats cancer using radiation therapy. Surgery is the oldest type of cancer therapy.

What types of cancer does a surgical oncologist treat?

A surgical oncologist treats all types of solid tumors of the head and neck, lung, stomach, pancreas, liver, large bowel, skin, and soft tissue. Some surgical oncologists specialize by treating only lung, head and neck, or liver cancers.

What is your role as Oncology Service Line Director?

As the Director, I am the primary coordinator of all cancer programs and activities. Working alongside other cancer specialists at Mercy Philadelphia, Mercy Fitzgerald and Nazareth Hospitals, my job is to ensure that patients are offered the most up-to-date, evidence-based cancer treatments, as well as easy access to the many support services Mercy provides.