What is Oncology and How Does it Help Treat Cancer?

Oncology is a branch of medicine that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. It involves a range of modalities, such as computed tomography imaging, to determine if a tumor can be surgically removed in its entirety. A tissue diagnosis, based on a biopsy, is essential for the correct classification of cancer and to guide the next step of treatment. In rare cases where this is not possible, empirical therapy (without an exact diagnosis) may be considered, based on available evidence.

Immunohistochemical markers can give a strong indication of primary malignancy. This situation is known as malignancy of unknown primary origin and, again, treatment is empirical based on past experiences of the most probable origin. Depending on the cancer identified, palliative and follow-up care will be given at that time. Certain disorders (such as ALL or AML) will require immediate admission and chemotherapy, while others will be followed up with regular physical exams and blood tests. Palliative care has become a separate and closely related specialty for addressing problems associated with advanced disease.

Palliative care services may be less hospital-based than oncology-based, with nurses and doctors who can visit the patient at home. These problems are closely related to patients' personality, religion, culture, and family life. While these problems are complex and emotional, the answers are often achieved by the patient seeking advice from trusted friends and personal advisors. It requires a degree of sensitivity and very good communication from the oncology team to address these issues properly. Therapeutic trials often involve patients from many different hospitals in a particular region. In the UK, patients often participate in large studies coordinated by Cancer Research UK (CRUK), the Medical Research Council (MRC), the European Organization for Cancer Research and Treatment (EORTC) or the National Cancer Research Network (NCRN).Medical oncology is a type of medication that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer.

The job of a medical oncologist is to care for cancer patients through the use of items such as chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy. The oncologist's team, including a pathologist, studies the sample to see if it contains cancer cells. Your family doctor or family doctor can refer you to an oncologist if they want the opinion of an expert in a specific field or cannot determine a cancer diagnosis. The oncologist may also order more tests, such as imaging tests (such as CT scans, MRIs, or ultrasounds), or may take a blood or urine sample. Oncologists who specialize in medical oncology, surgical oncology, radiation oncology, or hematology oncology complete residencies and fellowship programs prior to becoming certified. Hematological oncologists also treat patients with bleeding disorders such as hemophilia, von Willebrand disease and thalassemia, as well as blood cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia. Oncology takes its name from the Greek word “oncos” which means swelling and refers to the way Greek doctors described how tumors grew.

You can also see other oncologists depending on the type of cancer you have and the type of treatment plan you want. Since then I have participated in in-person and online support groups, joined retreats, and met countless health professionals who specialize in oncology while continuing my research. In general terms you may see an oncologist if you talk to your primary care doctor about a change in your body and they recommend that you have some preliminary tests. Or call a trusted hospital to see which medical oncologists work there and who might be right for you.

Shauna Crapp
Shauna Crapp

Sushi buff. Lifelong bacon advocate. Extreme food lover. General web fan. Wannabe coffee lover.

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