Oncology is the study of cancer. An oncologist is a doctor who treats cancer and provides medical care to a person who has been diagnosed with cancer. The oncologist may also be called a cancer specialist. Finding the right cancer doctor (oncologist) can take time.
It's important to find a doctor you're comfortable with and who works with you during diagnosis and treatment. Ask the doctor who found the cancer if you need to find an oncology doctor right away or if you can take time to evaluate your options. An oncologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating people who have cancer. 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.
Gynecologic oncologists treat cancers in reproductive organs such as the cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, uterus, vagina, and vulva. Hematologic 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. The oncologist's team, including a pathologist, studies the sample to see if it contains cancer cells. This usually starts when the oncologist examines blood, urine, and other body fluids for high or low levels of certain substances that could be signs of cancer or blood disorders.
A surgical oncologist may be one of the first doctors you go to if your primary care doctor suspects you have cancer. 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. As physicians, oncologists' study of cancer and blood disorders begins in medical school, after which the paths diverge depending on the specialty chosen by the doctor. Becoming a radiation oncologist is a five-year process that includes an internship in internal medicine, followed by a residency in radiation oncology.
Medical oncologists help their patients manage side effects and help manage and maintain well-being. Requesting an evaluation from another oncologist is common practice, especially that of an expert in a specific cancer or body part. The oncologist will also review any scans and tests you have already had and, if necessary, perform additional tests. Medical oncologists treat cancer with chemotherapy, hormone therapies, biological therapies, and other targeted treatments.
For example, you may be able to locate an oncologist who specializes in treating breast, prostate, lung, colorectal, or other types of cancer. During this initial visit, the oncologist will perform a complete physical exam and take the time to learn more about your medical and family history.