Oncology is the study of cancer, and an oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating it. They are also known as cancer specialists, and they can diagnose and provide medical care to those who have been diagnosed with cancer. To do this, they may perform physical exams to look for abnormalities that could indicate cancer, as well as blood and urine tests or imaging scans such as MRIs, ultrasounds, and CT scans. They may also do one or more biopsies to check for cancer cells in the tissues.
After completing their residency, medical oncologists must complete two to three years of a medical oncology fellowship. In a study by MacKillop et al, 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%. At a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Board of Directors, it was proposed that current chemotherapy is much less toxic and the results are much better than before, so oncologists should take chemotherapy uniformly if faced with the disease. This patient was 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. They also often treat complicated gynecological conditions that are not cancerous, such as endometriosis and fibroid tumors.
Pediatric oncologists specialize in certain types of cancer and may also focus on conducting research on childhood cancers. If you have prostate cancer and a urologist has recommended surgery, you may want to see a radiation oncologist for information about nonsurgical treatment. 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. Radiation oncologists treat cancer with radiation therapy which involves the use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to kill cancer cells. Usually doctor's offices aren't equipped to diagnose a cancerous tumor so you'll be referred to an oncologist for further testing.
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. Because most cancers are treated with a combination of therapies, you may see several different types of oncologists during the course of treatment. It is important to understand the different types of specialists available so you can make an informed decision about your care. Medical oncologists specialize in treating cancer with medications such as chemotherapy or immunotherapy. Surgical oncologists specialize in removing tumors through surgery.
Radiation oncologists specialize in using radiation therapy to treat cancer. Oncologists play an important role in diagnosing and treating cancer. They are highly trained specialists who can provide comprehensive care for those affected by this disease. It is important to understand the different types of specialists available so you can make an informed decision about your care.