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Oncology – Doctors and Cancer Treatment

oncology research scientists

Oncology is the medical study of cancer including its diagnosis, prevention and therapy, which usually comprises three types of treatment: surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, with the follow-up care.

Oncology deals with other aspects of the condition as well:

  • Palliative care – which applies to patients with terminal tumors and malignancies.
  • Screening efforts and research on populations, mapping of the hereditary basis of certain types of cancer.
  • Also, oncology addresses ethical issues such as euthanasia.

What Happens in Cancerous Patients?

Cells in the body have a complex mechanism that controls their growth, maturity and reproduction. Cancer develops when cells in one part of the body begin to grow at a different pace, in a pattern that gets out of control. They are referred as abnormal cells.

Billions of people live with cancer worldwide or have recovered from a tumor suffered before. It is the second cause of death the U.S., and treatment prospects are hard to foresee because experts claim it is hard to find two identical tumors.

Oncology Doctors

Medical specialists and professionals who practice oncology are called oncologists or cancer specialists. They are able to diagnose the stage of the cancer and assess its nature. Some of the key responsibilities are:

  • To support and accompany the patient from the diagnosis to the follow up care.
  • To explain diagnosis to the patient – where the cancer is located and what life functions it is affecting.
  • To discuss the best treatment options and to recommend the most suitable for the patient.
  • To help the patient maintain a pain-free quality lifestyle.

Along with oncology doctors, some other professionals are involved in patient’s care. Depending on the circumstances you might need to have contact with several oncology specialists during the treatment at once, as cancer is a delicate disease.

An oncology team is assembled in some special cases, depending on the affected area. It might involve a medical specialist related to that area to treat disorders of the blood, bone marrows and lymph nodes. Or

  • Pathologists – who specialize in the interpretation of lab tests, the evaluation of cells, organs and tissues.
  • Radiologists – who specialize in performing imaging tests, X-rays or ultrasound, and interpret them in order to help diagnose cancer.
  • Nurses
  • Social workers

Cancer Treatment Types

There are several ways to treat a tumor: with hormone therapy, commonly called medicine, immunotherapy, radiation or surgery. The treatment depends on the type of cancer and the stage.

  • Radiation oncology – treats cancer with radiation.
  • Medical oncology – will oversee general care and coordinate treatment with other mentioned specialists and perform regular checkups.
  • Surgical oncology – it is the surgeon with specialized training to diagnose through biopsy, remove tumors and cancerous tissue.
  • Chemotherapy – uses drugs to kill cancer cells.
  • Targeted therapy – blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy or biologic therapy- boosts body’s natural defenses against cancer.

oncology CT laboratory

How to Look for Oncology Centers

  • Openness to Questions – One of the most important things to require from oncology doctors is to feel his presence and his attention. The oncology specialist should answer patient’s questions and make themselves available at all times.
  • Good training – Look at the framed degrees on the oncology doctor’s wall. Every patient should ask the specialist about special qualifications, published material on relevant journals on cancer treatment. Also a relevant question to ask whether the oncologist belongs to the Cancer Society of his or her country.
  • Experience – Oncology centers should provide patients with experienced specialists with years of practice activity in cancer treatment; surgical oncology, medical oncology, dermatology, etc. Patients should ask how many patients has the doctor treated over the past years with what success rates in order to assure they treat.  
  • Board certification – This is essential to show successful exams, excellence and skill recognized by  national and international boards of certification.

Entire list of Oncology related procedures abroad