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University of Ottawa

Ottawa, Canada
Training Program Director: Carolyn Nessim MD, MSc, FRCSC, FACS

University of Ottawa Cancer Centre

The University of Ottawa Surgical Oncology Program offers a two-year training program in Complex General Surgical Oncology (CGSO). We accept 1 fellow per year. Applicants are interviewed and ranked through the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP).

The University of Ottawa Surgical Oncology program is fully approved by the Society of Surgical Oncology (2016), and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) (2016). The ACGME recognizes the training in RCPSC approved CGSO programs and there is a reciprocity agreement between the two accrediting bodies.

The vision of the University of Ottawa Program is to create leaders in Surgical Oncology in Academic Centers and in Large Regional Community Centers.


Fellows in this program benefit from exposure to faculty and facilities at The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Center, General Campus, Civic Campus and Riverside Ambulatory Hospital. The Ottawa Hospital serves most of Eastern Ontario and the Champlain region servicing a population of 1.3 million and is one of the largest teaching hospitals in Canada, having 1122 beds. The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Program aims to provide each person affected by cancer world-class care, exceptional service and compassion that we would want for our loved ones. We provide high-quality cancer care ranging from prevention, cancer assessment, treatment, support, follow-up care, to end of life care. The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre treats 21,000 patients a year, which translates into 190,000 patient visits every year. It is the second-largest cancer services provider in Ontario. It has some of the largest surgical cancer volumes/year in the country with 600 breast cancers, 390 Colorectal cancers, 165 HPB cancers, 176 Soft Tissue Sarcomas/Melanomas, 67 Esophageal/Gastric Cancers and 407 Head&Neck/Thyroid Cancers. The Ottawa Hospital has 330 surgical beds and is actively involved in clinical trials with 15,532 patients currently enrolled.

Core and Elective CGSO Clinical Rotations

During the fellowship, all fellows rotate through Surgical Oncology services including core rotations in Colorectal, Upper GI, Sarcoma, Melanoma, HPB and Breast. Fellows will also receive training in one-month rotations each of radiation oncology, medical oncology, and surgical pathology. There is also an integrated research block equivalent to 3 months. There are 3-6 months of electives. There is an Inter-University agreement with the University of Toronto for those wanting to do an elective in peritoneal malignancies. Other electives include palliative care, community surgical oncology, HPB, gastric cancer, sarcoma, oncoplastic breast surgery, head and neck surgery, or research and can take place either in Ottawa or at other international centres. Other electives are possible if discussed with the program director and approved. All rotations involve and emphasize interaction in the multidisciplinary team through multidisciplinary clinics, tumor boards, rounds and in the operating room.


The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) is a world-class research center. It is the 3rd hospital in Canada for peer-reviewed funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the 5th hospital in Canada for overall research funding. 1300 papers are published every year. There are opportunities to do lab-based as well as clinical, quality outcomes or economic research. The OHRI has a Methods Center with epidemiologists and biostatisticians who provide guidance and support for the fellows’ research projects. Fellows have an identified clinical and research mentor during the fellowship. It is expected that each fellow will complete at least one research project during the fellowship and that this project will be submitted to a major meeting and for publication. The research project will also be submitted to the annual Department of Surgery Collins Research Day. There is the opportunity to extend the program by an additional year and enter the CIP (Clinician Investigator Program) and complete a Masters in Basic Science, Clinical Epidemiology, Public Health, Education or an MBA upon request. These positions are competitive.

Formal Educational Program

The formal education program includes a weekly lecture and seminar series which reviews all of the important educational objectives of the Surgical Oncology Program over a 2-year cycle. There are also quarterly journal clubs organized by the fellows and attended by staff. This journal club is unique as it is Multi-disciplinary bringing together Surgical Oncology, Medical Oncology, Radiation Oncology and Pathology Fellows together to discuss relevant literature in the field. The seminar series is complemented by institutional rounds, tumour boards, and conferences.

The SSO Fellows Institute offers a ‘boot camp’ in surgical skills and lecture series in the US that our fellow may attend. This is especially encouraged in their second year of training.

Eligibility and Benefits

We are looking for candidates that have shown a dedication to surgical oncology and an interest in research. Successful applicants will have successfully completed or anticipate completion of their residency training board exam in a recognized General Surgery training program. Currently, we only have full funding for Canadian Citizens or Canadian permanent residents (including those that did their training abroad). In addition, all of our fellows are provided with financial support to attend the SSO Annual Symposium as well as other academic events.

Elective Rotations

We strongly encourage residents to come a do an elective rotation on our service. We would be very happy to welcome you to see our program and spend some time with us in your PGY3 or PGY4 year.

To organize an elective on our service please contact the Program Director, Dr. Carolyn Nessim at cnessim@toh.ca.

Contact and Address:

Program Administrator:Cassandra Osins
Address:Division of General Surgery – Surgical Oncology Unit
Civic Campus, Loeb Research Building
725 Parkdale Avenue, Room WM150h
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada, K1Y 4E9
Phone:(613) 798-5555 ext. 10601
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