What is an oncologist?

Medical oncologists are doctors who specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. It is possible that they may be involved in determining the type and extent of cancer and providing treatments such as chemotherapy. An oncologist also manages and a person’s care one he or she has been diagnosed with cancer, and provide follow-up care to monitor the progress of those diagnosed and resume care for them if cancer returns. Medical oncologists may specialise in the treatment of certain types of cancers or treating specific age groups, such as paediatric oncologists who only treat children. There are two sub-types of oncologists – a medical oncologist specialises in the administration of chemotherapy drugs and a medical oncologist has training in the administration of radiotherapy.

When would I need an oncologist?

Physicians, dentists and doctors will refer patients to an oncologist if they suspect that they may have a form of cancer. If you have already been diagnosed with a type of cancer you will need an oncologist to determine a course of treatment and to manage your care, as well as to assess your medical needs and the stage of your cancer, recommend and implement a treatment plan and monitor your progress.

How can an oncologist help me?

An oncologist can help you in multiple ways by providing both a treatment plan and forms of emotional support to help you deal with your diagnosis and treatment. An oncologist will help you through the stress and emotional upheaval of being diagnosed with cancer, and the physical pressure that can be put on a body when it is going through radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Furthermore, oncologists will help to keep an eye on your cancer and how your treatments are working, even once all treatment has finished and you are going through recovery.

What should I expect when I see an oncologist?

When you see an oncologist you can expect that your physician will discuss your disease, treatment options, and prognosis with you. Your prognosis, which is the doctor’s prediction of how you will recover from your illness, depends on the type of cancer, the stage of your disease when first diagnosed, and your response to treatment. You can expect that your oncologist will be honest and hopeful when talking to you, and may even recommend a newly approved treatment or novel drug being evaluated in clinical trials before suggesting a more common treatment.