Oncology is a field of medicine that is often associated with cancer, but it is much more than that. An oncologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases related to the blood and reproductive system. Oncologists can be generalists or specialize in certain types of cancer or treatments. Seeing an oncologist doesn't necessarily mean you have cancer.
It could be that you have symptoms that could be related to cancer, and the oncologist will order tests to learn more about your symptoms. A primary care doctor may refer you to an oncologist for further evaluation if they find evidence of cancer. Oncologists are certified and licensed in the state where they practice medical oncology. You can also see other oncologists depending on the type of cancer you have and the type of treatment plan you want.
For example, a urological oncologist treats cancers of the genitourinary system, such as the bladder, kidneys, penis, prostate, and testicles. A medical oncologist treats cancer with chemotherapy or other medications, such as hormone therapy and immunotherapy. A radiation oncologist specializes in giving external and internal radiation therapy to people with cancer. Hematology is another important aspect of oncology. Hematologists treat blood disorders such as anaemia, sickle cell disease, and thrombosis.
Many oncologists are also board certified to practice hematology. This means that even if you don't have cancer, you may be treated by a doctor who specializes in cancer and blood disorders. Oncologists can also specialize in certain types of cancer or treatments. Gynecological oncologists treat cancers of the female reproductive system, such as those affecting the uterus, cervix, or ovaries. Hematology oncologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers of the blood (leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma).
Radiation oncologists specialize in treating cancer with radiation therapy to reduce or kill cancer cells or to relieve cancer-related symptoms. The invention of the microscope, followed by a wide availability of anesthesia, led to rapid progress in the field of oncology in the mid-19th century. Medical oncologists generally act as the primary provider of health care for people with cancer. Surgical oncologists treat cancer through surgery, which includes removing the tumor and nearby tissue during an operation. If you need to find an oncologist for yourself or a loved one, you can start by asking your primary care doctor for a referral. You can also call a trusted hospital to see which medical oncologists work there and who might be right for you.