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Professor John Benson

Consultant breast surgeon

I am a consultant breast surgeon within the Cambridge breast clinic at Addenbrooke’s Hospital

You cannot second guess life – you just have to live it

My current role

In addition to being a Consultant Breast Surgeon in the Cambridge Breast Unit, I am an Associate Lecturer, University of Cambridge, Visiting Professor, School of Medicine, Anglia Ruskin University and Honorary Lecturer, University of East Anglia.

I am co-convener for the Advanced Skills in Breast Disease Course that has now been devolved from the Royal College of Surgeons of England to Selwyn College Cambridge. I am Module Lead for the Masters in Oncoplastic Breast Surgery (University of East Anglia/The Royal College of Surgeons of England).

My current practice at Addenbrooke’s Hospital is devoted entirely to management of patients with breast diseases.

Previous history

I received my medical degree from Oxford University and have been awarded doctorates from Oxford and Cambridge Universities [DM (Oxon); MD (Cantab)]. I was a research fellow at the Royal Marsden Hospital and Institute of Cancer Research in London and undertook internships at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Surrey and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London. I gained further experience in management of breast diseases as Visiting Professor at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Centre.

I was Fellow and Director of Clinical Studies at Selwyn College, Cambridge from 2006 until 2020 and recently demitted from office as a Trustee and member of the Executive Board of the Association of Breast Surgery (ABS). I was a member of the Education and Training Committee (ABS) between 2011 and 2016 and the Academic and Research Committee (ABS) from 2016 until 2021.

I am a former member of the Planning Committee for the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (world’s premier breast cancer meeting) and was Visiting Professor at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio in December 2016 and delivered the prestigious Grand Round Lecture (Department of Surgery).

I stood for Presidency of the Association of Breast Surgery in 2020 in a closely fought election.

Memberships and accreditations

I am a member of the Panel of Examiners, Intercollegiate MRCS Examination (Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh), a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, a member of the British Breast Group and the International Forum of ABS.

Personal interests

I am first and foremost a clinician with a practice dedicated to treating patients with benign and malignant breast disease. I have a strong commitment to education and research and am ranked in the top 0.072% of the world’s breast cancer experts based on publication output in the past 10 years.

My principle research interest is exploration of the fluorescent tracer agent indocyanine green (ICG) for sentinel lymph node detection in early breast cancer patients. I was joint recipient of an ABS Research Development Grant in 2021 and will be conducting a randomised clinical trial of ICG in collaboration with colleagues in Dundee. I am Principal Investigator for several national breast cancer trials and regularly act as reviewer for major grant giving bodies such as Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council, Breast Cancer Now and several key European cancer research foundations.

I regularly undertake international invited speaker presentations and in 2019 traveled to Iran, Jordan, Italy, Kenya, Switzerland, Russia, Spain, Taiwan, India, Brazil and the United States. I am interested in promoting breast cancer care in low and middle income countries and traveled to Nairobi in August 2019 to deliver a workshop and lectures to local surgeons; I am currently developing a resource of online educational materials.

I was a member of a Parliamentary Working Group in 2017 on management of benign breast lesions and those of uncertain malignant potential.

My extensive and up-to-date knowledge in the field of breast cancer was recognised internationally with my nomination to become a reviewer for the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) guidelines that influence clinical practice worldwide and are adopted by many countries as standard of care for breast cancer patients.


I have published widely in the field of breast diseases with more than 170 publications and 31 papers/articles in the Lancet/Lancet Oncology. I have contributed numerous book chapters and written/edited nine books on breast cancer/reconstructive surgery and won First Prize in the 2013 BMA Medical Book Awards. A new edition of Oncoplastic and Reconstructive Management of the Breast (co-editor) was published in May 2020 [CRC Press] with a foreword by Monica Morrow (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center). I also published an Atlas of Breast Surgery in the same year that was co-written with eminent colleagues from the United States [Springer].