Medical oncologists are medical professionals who specialize in treating cancer with medications such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy. Radiation oncologists, on the other hand, use radiation therapy to treat cancer. This involves the use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that works by stopping cancer cells from growing, dividing, and producing more cells.
Some patients report feeling better and having more energy soon after starting chemotherapy due to the decrease in cancer symptoms. This can allow them to enjoy activities they weren't able to do before. Even if the cancer can't be cured, chemotherapy can partially shrink tumors and prevent tumor growth and spread over time. The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the type of chemotherapy being used, the combination of medications being taken, any other chronic illnesses present, medications taken for other conditions, and how active or fit the patient is before treatment.
Chemotherapy can temporarily decrease the production of red and white blood cells in the bone marrow, leading to anemia, fatigue, and a weakened immune system. Smith and colleagues surveyed a sample of oncologists attending the 1997 annual National Network of Comprehensive Centers (NCCN) conference to see if attitudes toward receiving chemotherapy had changed. Having more options means that an oncologist may have more options if treatment doesn't work or if side effects are difficult to manage. These categories of drugs work in different ways to treat cancer and have different side effects than chemotherapy.
The main objective of the survey was to know the views of oncologists on reported statistics on the administration of chemotherapy at the end of life. Sometimes, the goal of chemotherapy is to eliminate all of the cancer and prevent it from returning. The oncologist may order additional tests such as imaging tests (CT scans, MRIs, or ultrasounds) or take a blood or urine sample. Depending on the type of chemotherapy used, patients may receive a dose and then have a recovery time before repeating treatment.
The survey results showed that even with modern chemotherapy that is modestly more effective and supportive care that is clearly more effective, about a third of medical oncologists and cancer nurses would still not take chemotherapy. 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.