The Society of Surgical Oncology Encourages Doctors, Patients to Question Specific Commonly-used Tests and Treatments as part of Choosing Wisely Campaign

ROSEMONT, IL – The Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) today released a list of specific tests or procedures that are commonly ordered but not always necessary in surgical oncology as part of Choosing Wisely, an initiative of the ABIM Foundation and Consumer Reports. The list identifies five targeted, evidence-based recommendations that can support conversations between patients and physicians about what care is really necessary.

SSO’s list identified the following five recommendations:

  • Don’t routinely use sentinel node biopsy in clinically node negative women >70 years of age with hormone receptor positive invasive breast cancer.
  • Don’t routinely use breast MRI for breast cancer screening in average risk women.
  • Don’t obtain routine blood work (e.g., CBC, liver function tests) other than a CEA level during surveillance for colorectal cancer.
  • Don’t perform routine PET-CT in the initial staging of localized colon or rectal cancer or as part of routine surveillance for patients who have been curatively treated for colon or rectal cancer.
  • Don’t routinely order imaging studies for staging purposes on patients newly diagnosed with localized primary cutaneous melanoma unless there is suspicion for metastatic disease based on history and physical exam.

“As a partner to surgeons and health care providers around the globe, we have a responsibility to advance and improve the treatment of cancer, and that means encouraging healthy dialogue between patients and their physicians,” said SSO President Daniel G. Coit, MD, Attending Surgeon, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Professor of Surgery, Weill Cornell Medical College. “More care is not always better care, and there are many situations where eliminating unnecessary or non-evidence based testing results in better and more cost-efficient care. It’s critical for the physician and patient to communicate in order to make the best possible decision. The recommendations released today are a starting point for these conversations.”

The SSO Choosing Wisely list was developed after months of careful consideration and review, using the most current evidence about management and treatment options. Many SSO members actively participate in guideline development and one aim of these guidelines is to minimize unnecessary testing.

“Members of the SSO were excited to collaborate and contribute to the Choosing Wisely campaign,” said SSO Quality Committee Chair Sandra L. Wong, MD, MS, Professor and Chair of Surgery, Senior Vice President of the Surgical Services Line at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center/The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. “Our goals of delivering the best possible surgical oncology care align with the campaign’s overarching goals of promoting high quality and high value care. We hope that our set of evidence-based recommendations support the avoidance of unnecessary testing and procedures for our patients.”

To date, nearly 100 national and state medical specialty societies, regional health collaboratives and consumer partners have joined the conversation about appropriate care. With the release of these new lists, the campaign will have covered more than 475 tests and procedures that the specialty society partners say are overused and inappropriate, and that clinicians and patients should discuss. Consumer Reports creates patient friendly material on these topics and has covered more than 100 of these tests and procedures. SSO will be working with Consumer Reports to develop these resources for some of their recommendations.

“Conversations about what care patients truly need is a shared responsibility among all members of the health care team,” said Richard J. Baron, MD, President and CEO of the ABIM Foundation. “SSO’s Choosing Wisely list will help surgical oncologists across the country engage their patients in a dialogue about what care is best for them, and what we can do to reduce waste and overuse in our health care system.”

The Choosing Wisely campaign reaches millions of consumers nationwide through a stable of consumer and advocacy partners, led by Consumer Reports—the world’s largest independent product-testing organization—which has worked with the ABIM Foundation to distribute patient-friendly resources for consumers and physicians to engage in these important conversations.

To learn more about Choosing Wisely and to view the complete lists and additional detail about the recommendations and evidence supporting them, visit

To learn more about SSO, visit

About the Society of Surgical Oncology
The Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) is the premier organization for surgeons and health care providers dedicated to advancing and promoting the science and treatment of cancer. The Society’s focus on all solid-tumor disease sites is reflected in its Annual Cancer Symposium, monthly scientific journal (Annals of Surgical Oncology), educational initiatives and committee structure. The Society’s mission is to improve multidisciplinary patient care by advancing the science, education and practice of cancer surgery worldwide.

About the ABIM Foundation
The mission of the ABIM Foundation is to advance medical professionalism to improve the health care system. We achieve this by collaborating with physicians and physician leaders, medical trainees, health care delivery systems, payers, policy makers, consumer organizations and patients to foster a shared understanding of professionalism and how they can adopt the tenets of professionalism in practice. To learn more about the ABIM Foundation, visit, connect with us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

About Consumer Reports
Consumers Reports is an expert, independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. As consumers become increasingly involved in their own health decisions, they need unbiased, accurate, evidence-based information to compare their options and to make appropriate choices for themselves and their families. For more information about Consumer Reports Health go to

About Choosing Wisely
First announced in December 2011, Choosing Wisely is part of a multi-year effort led by the ABIM Foundation to support and engage physicians in being better stewards of finite health care resources. Participating specialty societies are working with the ABIM Foundation and Consumer Reports to share the lists widely with their members and convene discussions about the physician’s role in helping patients make wise choices. Learn more at