Good practice and quality assurance in surgical oncology.
Douek M., Taylor I.
The Halstedian era of radical surgical extirpation for solid tumours dominated the first half of the 20th century. But as understanding of cancer biology increased, a paradigm shift occurred which moved the focus away from extensive surgery towards less radical procedures. Although surgery is a recognised factor in local disease control, prognosis is now believed to be predetermined at the time of diagnosis by the presence of micrometastatic deposits. Modern cancer management consists of more skilled and conservative surgery to remove the primary tumour; adjuvant therapies are also given before and after the operation to target the subclinical metastatic deposits. The most important components of high-quality care in surgical oncology are: sound clinical judgment, surgical skill, and multidisciplinary care. These prerequisites are best achieved by specialisation, but high operative volume is not essential for excision of many types of tumour. Quality assurance using several readily available tools can ensure that the process of care from presentation to outcome is constantly improved and that institutional variations in number of cases and quality of care are monitored.