Surgical Oncology

Guthrie Surgical OncologySurgery is often the first method used in diagnosing or treating cancer. It may be followed by other treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Some surgical procedures are done in an outpatient setting, while others may require hospitalization.

Guthrie surgeons, oncologists and other physicians work as a team to obtain the best possible outcome for our patients. If surgery is an option for you, Guthrie offers the region’s only fellowship-trained surgical oncologists, who exclusively treat cancer on a daily basis. Their experience and expertise allow them to tackle complex cancers, giving you more options.

Surgery may be performed to:

  • Prevent cancer by removing growths
  • Determine the stage of the cancer and its progression
  • Remove the entire tumor (curative)
  • Remove a majority of the tumor (tumor reduction)
  • Alleviate pain or other complications (palliative surgery)
  • Reconstruct affected areas (breast reconstruction, facial)

Guthrie offers dedicated surgeons for the following cancers:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Endocrine (thyroid) cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Gynecologic cancer
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Liver and pancreatic cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Ophthalmology (eye) cancer
  • Oral and maxillofacial cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Sarcoma
  • Stomach cancer

What to Expect

Your surgical oncology team will work closely with you to find surgical options best suited to your individual needs, so you can feel confident in your treatment decision.

During your first appointment, your surgical oncologist will:

  • Review your medical record including x-rays and test results from any tests or biopsies.
  • Discuss your health history.
  • Discuss the potential need for a biopsy to accurately diagnose the disease and determine its stage.
  • If surgery is a part of your treatment plan, your surgeon will explain the recommended treatment options, answer your questions and help you feel comfortable with any upcoming procedures.

Preparing for Your First Appointment

Your Guthrie physician will need to review any tests, procedures, or treatments that you may have had. If you are already a Guthrie patient, your physician has access to your electronic medical record. If you have had treatment elsewhere, you will need to bring the following to your first appointment. If you wish, our team can assist you in gathering this information to prepare for the first appointment.

Medical Summary

This is a description written by your physician detailing your medical problems and the treatment you have received. A medical summary will be needed from your primary physician and any specialist you have seen.

Your Medication

Please be sure to bring a list of all medications you take, including those prescribed by physicians and those you buy over the counter. This should include any vitamins or herbal products you take. The medication list should indicate the following information:

  • the name of each medicine.
  • the dose you take.
  • how often you take it.

Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostic tests include X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, PET scans, bone scans, stress tests, echocardiograms and electrocardiograms. The images may be on disc or on film.

To obtain radiology tests:

  • Contact the hospital or radiology center where the images were taken.
  • Request for the images and a written report on disc. If the images are not available on disc, then ask for the actual films.

Pathology Slides from Any Biopsies or Surgical Procedures

If you had a biopsy or surgery at another facility, please contact that office to request slides and a copy of the written report.

Insurance Card

We will need the name of your health insurance company, along with other information that appears on your health insurance card. In addition, please bring a photo ID. If you are covered by more than one insurer, please bring both cards.

Other Ways to Prepare for Your Appointment Include:

  • Arrange for a friend or family member to come with you. You will receive a lot of information and it is helpful to have someone else there to take notes.
  • Write down any questions you may think of before your first visit. Bring these with you. All questions are welcomed.


What is the difference between a Surgical Oncologist and a General Surgeon?

Guthrie Surgical Oncologists are fellowship-trained in general surgery and have undergone additional specialty training in cancer surgery. Furthermore, each Surgical Oncologist focuses his or her clinical practice on management of only one or two types of cancer. Thus, surgical oncologists offer a high degree of specialization and expertise.

Do I need to see a specialist in cancer surgery?

Surgical oncologists have advanced training and may have access to newer approaches and/or clinical trials to treat cancer. Also, because of our multidisciplinary approach, the surgeon is part of a team of oncologists working together to provide you the best care possible.

Physicians and Healthcare Providers

David Bertsch, MD



Burt Cagir, MD


Big Flats

Hang Dang, DO



Kristen Hatfield PA-C



Thomas VanderMeer, MD



Nan Walsh, MS, CRNP