Cancer is a serious illness that requires specialized care. An oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating cancer and providing medical care to those who have been diagnosed with the disease. Oncologists use a variety of treatments to treat cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and more. A multidisciplinary approach is essential for successful cancer treatment.
This means that the entire cancer care team, including the surgeon, oncologist, radiation oncologist, pathologist, and other healthcare professionals, must work together to ensure the best outcomes. Local treatments such as surgery and radiation therapy are used to treat a specific tumor or area of the body. Systemic treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy can affect the entire body. Surgical oncologists treat cancer through surgery, which includes removing the tumor and nearby tissue during an operation.
Radiation oncologists treat cancer with radiation therapy, which involves the use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to kill cancer cells. Medical oncologists treat cancer with medications such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy. Gynecologic oncologists treat cancers in reproductive organs such as the cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, uterus, vagina, and vulva. Urological oncologists treat cancers of the genitourinary system such as the bladder, kidneys, penis, prostate, and testicles.
When these types of cancer occasionally occur in adults, those adult patients may choose to work with a pediatric oncologist. Comprehensive information for people with cancer, families and caregivers is available from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).