A branch of medicine that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. It includes medical oncology (the use of chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and other drugs to treat cancer), radiation oncology (the use of radiation therapy to treat cancer), and surgical oncology (the use of surgery and other procedures to treat cancer).
Cancers are often managed through discussion on multi-disciplinary cancer conferences where medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, and organ specific oncologists meet to find the best possible management for an individual patient considering the physical, social, psychological, emotional, and financial status of the patient. It is very important for oncologists to keep updated with respect to the latest advancements in oncology, as changes in management of cancer are quite common. All eligible patients in whom cancer progresses, and for whom no standard of care treatment options are available should be enrolled in a clinical trial
The field of oncology has three major areas: medical, surgical, and radiation
- A medical oncologist treats cancer using chemotherapy or other medications, such as targeted therapy or immunotherapy.
- A surgical oncologist removes the tumor and nearby tissue during surgery. He or she also performs certain types of biopsies to help diagnose cancer.
- A radiation oncologist treats cancer using radiation therapy.
The role of the oncologist
An oncologist manages a patient’s care throughout the course of the disease. This starts with the diagnosis. His or her role includes:
- Explaining the cancer diagnosis and stage
- Talking about all treatment options and his or her preferred choice
- Delivering quality and compassionate care
- Helping a patient manage the symptoms and side effects of cancer and cancer treatment.