Cancer is a serious condition that affects millions of people around the world. When a person is suspected of having cancer, they may be referred to an oncologist, a doctor who specializes in the study, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. Oncologists have the training and knowledge to identify different forms of cancer and how the disease progresses. When a patient comes to the first consultation, the oncologist will conduct a thorough examination.
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. After the tests are completed, the oncologist will be able to provide a basic prediction of how long it will take to recover. It's important to note that oncologists get cancer and die of cancer at the same rate as the general population. There are several very famous academic oncologists who have died of cancer, ironically in some cases from the cancer for which they were considered world experts.
What is less common is an oncologist with cancer who decides not to take the right treatment, but to try any of the homeopathic or alternative treatments that were all the rage that year. I recently had the misfortune of treating a well-known experienced oncologist and a personal friend who had treated for a couple of decades through three different types of cancer. My oncologist friend decided that he greatly appreciated my thoughts on his situation. You may need a special type of oncologist or even more than one type of oncologist for your treatment. 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.
It may also be helpful for the oncologist to know the patient's hobbies, interests, work, and family. 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. Your primary care doctor can perform tests to determine if you might have cancer. If there are any signs of cancer, your doctor may recommend seeing an oncologist as soon as possible. This may be for further testing and treatment. You should expect to work with a group of healthcare providers while you are receiving treatment.
A medical oncologist's job is to care for cancer patients through the use of items such as chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy.