An oncologist is a physician with advanced training, experience and education that provides them with the skills necessary to examine, diagnose and manage or treat cancerous tumors. Some of the many diseases they treat are bone tumors, breast cancer, brain tumors, Hodgkin’s disease, malignant melanomas, bowel cancer, esophageal cancer, lymphomas and stomach cancer. They often use chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat or alleviate the affects of cancer. The doctor discusses with their patients the appropriate course of action and answer any concerns or questions the patients have.
Many oncologists enter into specialty or subspecialty fields such as gynecological oncology, which is treating female reproductive organ cancers. A pediatric oncologist specializes in diagnosis and treating cancers, such as leukemia, in children while a surgical oncologist performs many different types of surgical cancer procedures, such as biopsies, tumor removal and tumor staging. Subspecialty and specialty fields often require additional training and education.
Although the training and formal education necessary to become an oncologist is exceedingly difficult and exacting, takes hard work along with years of medical training, it is a very rewarding career. Radiation and surgery are the most powerful weapons used in treating localized tumors, with a forty percent cure rate in cases newly diagnosed. An oncology specialist is concerned with relieving cancer symptoms and the side effects from cancer treatments. Unlike years ago, there are medications available today that help relieve the side effects of cancer treatments such as nausea, vomiting, pain control and insomnia. Oncologists often practice in private and community hospitals, university hospitals, medical centers and research organizations.
Common work activities include:
- Consulting with patients and their referring physicians to determine treatment plans that have been attempted in the patient’s history.
- Completing examinations including physical exams, biopsies, fluid and tissue samples and x-rays.
- Discussing treatment options with patients including both surgical and non-surgical treatment options.
- Completing all case and chart notes including treatments plans and test results.
- Attending trainings, workshops and conferences to keep informed of the latest cancer treating methods and options.
- Working with other medical professionals as part of the patient’s treatment team.