The area of oncology which emphasizes the surgical removal of malignancies is called surgical oncology.
Surgery is primarily beneficial for treatment of nodular (also called solid) malignancies which are localized to only one site in the body.
The surgical oncologist examines a patient with specific interest as to whether the mass can be completely removed. Complete removal requires removing a portion of normal tissue surrounding a mass. When this is accomplished and confirmed by the pathologist's tissue review, the tumor is said to be removed with "clean margins".
When there is no evidence of spread (metastasis) elsewhere in the body and the size and behavior of the neoplasm (grade) are are also considered less dangerous, it is possible to consider completely removed neoplasms to probably be cured.
However, even in such circumstances, the site of the neoplasm, regional lymph nodes and certain other sites should be carefully examined at specified intervals for recurrence.
The surgical oncologist is also called to consult in a variety of other instances.
Thus surgical oncology is one portion of the team approach to management of neoplasia in conjunction with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, regional or whole body hyperthermia, and molecular therapy.