If you have been diagnosed with cancer, you may be wondering who you will see first. Do you see a surgeon? A radiation oncologist? More often than not, you will begin with your medical oncologist, who is a core part of your cancer care team.
What Your Medical Oncologist Does
Your medical oncologist is one of the key team members because of the scope of what your physician does. This includes:
- Diagnosing your cancer and determining the cancer stage.
- Explaining your diagnosis and treatment options.
- Consulting with you and your care team to develop your treatment plan.
- Sharing opportunities to participate in clinical trials and research.
- Helping you manage your symptoms and side effects.
- Monitoring your progress through treatment.
- Discussing your care and progress in meetings with other physicians.
- Referring you to palliative care, if appropriate.
Your medical oncologist may treat your cancer with chemotherapy, hormonal therapy or targeted drug therapy.
Your medical oncologist will determine if your cancer needs to be treated with chemotherapy based on the type and stage of your cancer. Chemotherapy is the use of medication to stop cancer cells from growing and multiplying.
Chemotherapy may be given orally in the form of a tablet, intramuscularly or intravenously through the insertion of a needle into a vein or a catheter. It may include a series of medications given in a specific order. The frequency of your chemotherapy treatment can range from daily, to weekly, to monthly.
One of the benefits of chemotherapy is its ability to target cancer cells that can’t be reached by surgery or radiation. Chemotherapy is sometimes given prior to surgery to decrease the size of a large tumor to obtain better surgical results.
Your blood heath is related to your overall health. Hematology involves diagnosing and treating blood disorders, which can involve red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, bone marrow, lymph nodes and blood proteins.
Our medical oncologists are also hematologists who treat blood disorders that may or may not be cancer. These may include:
- Blood clots.