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Understanding the Various Oncology Specialties

When diagnosed with cancer, most patients want to get a deeper understanding of their condition. They want to know what the treatment entails and the various specialists who will be handling their case. Much progress has been made in the field of oncology, with innovative therapies evolving along with different specialties. Oncology as a branch of medicine involves research, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.

Oncologists are physicians who work in the oncology field. Different oncologists focus on particular types of cancers or their treatments. Some of them work together in a multidisciplinary system to provide comprehensive care to a patient. The three main specialties in the field of oncology are surgical, medical and radiation including other sub-specialties.

  • Medical oncologists – They are physicians who are licensed in internal medicine. They are highly trained to diagnose, stage and treat cancer. The specialists can also lead in the development of a treatment plan for a cancer patient in coordination with other oncology specialists and clinicians involved in the patient’s care. Medical oncologists are the doctors who handle cancer patients over a long-term after treatment for checkups.
  • Surgical oncologists – Surgical oncologists are surgeons who specialize in the surgical removal of cancerous tumors and other cancer-related surgeries. They also perform biopsies on cancer patients. 
  • Radiation oncologists – These are physicians who specialize in cancer treatment using radiation therapy. Beams of radiation are targeted at cancer locations to destroy or shrink cancer cells or reduce any cancer-related symptoms.
  • Other oncology sub-specialties – They include gynecologic oncologists, neuro-oncologists and hematologic oncologists. Gynecologic oncologists are physicians who treat all cancers of the female reproductive systems such as cancer of the cervix, uterus or ovaries. Hematologic oncologists, on the other hand, specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of blood cancers such as multiple myeloma, lymphoma, and leukemia. Neuro-oncologists specialize in treating cancers that affect the spine, brain, and peripheral nerves.

In your search for an oncologist, it is always good to ask if they are board certified in the specific oncology specialty. A comprehensive cancer care specialty should be able to cater to your type of cancer.

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