Oncology is the study of cancer. An oncologist is a doctor who treats cancer and provides medical care to a person who has been diagnosed with cancer. The oncologist may also be called a cancer specialist. The oncologist can do a physical exam to find abnormalities that may indicate cancer.
They can also do blood and urine tests or imaging scans, such as MRIs, ultrasounds, and CT scans. They may do one or more biopsies to check for cancer cells in the tissues. After residency, medical oncologists must complete another two to three years on a medical oncology fellowship. In the other category, which included a combination of radiation oncologists and other types of doctors, 33% said they would take chemotherapy.
At the ASCO Board meeting, it was proposed that current chemotherapy is much less toxic and the results are much better than oncologists would now take chemotherapy uniformly if faced with the disease. This patient is in that category, so she and her oncologist agreed to rely on a CT scan every nine months. Gynecological oncologists specialize in treating cancers that affect women, such as cancers of the ovary, cervix, uterus, vagina and vulva, but they also often treat complicated gynecological conditions that are not cancerous, such as endometriosis and fibroid tumors. Some pediatric oncologists specialize in certain types of cancer and others focus on conducting research on childhood cancers.
For example, if you have prostate cancer and a urologist has recommended surgery, you may want to see a radiation oncologist for information about nonsurgical treatment. In the MacKillop et al study, only 17% of medical oncologists said they would take chemotherapy for painful bone metastases and another 17% said they would undergo radiation therapy to the spine, in addition to chemotherapy, for a total of 34%. During this initial visit, the oncologist will perform a complete physical exam and take the time to learn more about your medical and family history. At a recent meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Board of Directors convened to review ASCO guidelines for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, objections were raised to the inclusion of previous data indicating that oncologists themselves would not take chemotherapy to treat non-small cell cancer lung cancer even though they were willing to give it to their patients.
Becoming a radiation oncologist is a five-year process that includes an internship in internal medicine, followed by a residency in radiation oncology. When these types of cancer occasionally occur in adults, those adult patients may choose to work with a pediatric oncologist. Because most cancers are treated with a combination of therapies, you may see several different types of oncologists during the course of treatment. Usually, doctor's offices aren't equipped to diagnose a cancerous tumor, so you'll be referred to an oncologist for further testing.
Radiation oncologists treat cancer with radiation therapy, which involves the use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to kill cancer cells. Some of the subspecialties include medical, surgical, radiation, pediatric, and gynecological oncologists.