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Core curriculum

Recommended Core Curriculum for the specialist training in Surgical Oncology within Europe
A proposal by the Education and Training Committee of the European Society of Surgical Oncology (ESSO)

Today, general surgeons can no longer work in isolation and must be part of a multidisciplinary team. The surgeon must be more than just a technician and must understand the contributions made by other disciplines and how this may impact on the type and timing of surgery: he/she must be a Surgical Oncologist. Excellent examples are the use of neoadjuvant chemotherapy or radiotherapy, which may render surgery possible or minimise its impact and involve close collaboration and discussion between surgeon, medical and radiation oncologist, medical imaging experts and pathologist. The technical side of surgery has also been transformed in the past few decades with advances in minimally invasive and robotic cancer surgery, improved understanding of surgical margins (the TME in rectal cancer for example), reconstructive surgery and enhanced recovery programmes to name but a few.  For senior surgeons, keeping up to date with these advances requires dedication and a significant commitment to continuous medical education, in all its various forms, across Europe1

At present, there is no pan-European training programme in surgical oncology and no standard form of accreditation for surgical oncologists in Europe. Therefore, the ESSO Curriculum Committee has developed a Core Curriculum for specialist training in surgical oncology within Europe to guide surgeons in enhancing the requesite levels of knowledge in surgical oncology. The ESSO Core Curriculum was developed over 2012 and 2013 and will be revised every two years. It features contributions from expert advisors from within the European Society of Surgical Oncology (ESSO), the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) and the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR).  The content of the curriculum has been reviewed and approved by the American Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO).

The document is divided into a "basic principles" section which has general relevance to all disease sites, and a series of site-specific sections. The latter have been divided into 2 parts: a basic level of knowledge which all surgical oncologists would be expected to have – to permit recognition of areas where their practice may overlap or reflect a level of knowledge of a generalist – and a specialist/advanced level of knowledge which would be expected of a surgeon practicing at the highest level in this field.

The ESSO Core Curriculum is intended to act as a guide for the requisite level of knowledge both for the practice of surgical oncology but also for the European Board of Surgery Qualification (EBSQ) in surgical oncology. 

The ESSO Core Curriculum has been published as a supplement of EJSO-the Journal of Cancer Surgery. Copies are available from the ESSO Secretariat and is also downloadable from this page.

Click here to download the Core Curriculum

1 Lynda Wyld, Chair, ESSO Education & Training Committee. Costa A, Van Hemelryck F, Aparicio A, Gatzemeier W, Leer JW, Maillet B, et al. Continuing medical education in Europe: towards a harmonised system. Eur J Cancer 2010;46(13):2340-3.

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