In this essay we set out clinical communication challenges in surgical oncology. We draw directly on relevant examples where they are available. Otherwise, we refer to the more generic surgical and medical literature. We offer 'macro' and 'micro' perspectives on clinical communication. That is, exploring communication challenges at the level of the organization and between individuals, doctors and patients and interprofessionally across different settings. Training content and methods are reported that address the complex communication challenges associated with surgical oncology. Innovations in simulation-based education offer exciting new opportunities for formative and summative assessment. We outline limitations of the essay and finally propose the content of a surgical oncology communication program.