Oncology is the scientific study of cancer, and an oncologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating it. Oncologists are the primary healthcare providers for people with cancer, and they coordinate and manage their treatment. They can do physical exams, blood and urine tests, imaging scans, and biopsies to check for cancer cells in the tissues. When cancer is detected, an oncologist will design a treatment plan based on detailed pathology reports.
This plan may involve several different types of oncologists, such as surgical oncologists who can remove tumors and surrounding tissues, radiation oncologists who administer radiation therapy to kill cancer cells and reduce tumor size, and medical oncologists who treat cancer with chemotherapy, hormone therapies, biological therapies, and other targeted treatments. Gynecological oncologists specialize in cancers that affect women. After residency, medical oncologists must complete two to three years of a medical oncology fellowship. When treatment is finished, people with cancer attend regular follow-up appointments with their medical oncologist.
If you or your loved ones are diagnosed with cancer, you may see an oncologist if your primary care doctor recommends it. You can look for a trusted hospital and find out which oncologists are associated with it. People with cancer often work with a team of healthcare providers that includes nurses, dietitians, pathologists, and oncologists. Oncology takes its name from the Greek word “oncos” which means swelling and refers to the way Greek doctors described how tumors grew.
If you have any questions or concerns about your diagnosis or treatment plan, don't hesitate to ask your oncologist for more information.