Oncology is the medical subspecialty dealing with the study and treatment of cancer. A physician who practices oncology is an oncologist. The term originates from the Greek onkos (ογκος), meaning bulk, mass, or tumor and the suffix -ology, meaning "study of."
Oncologists may be divided on the basis of the type of treatment provided.
- Surgical oncologists. These clinicians are surgeons who specialize in tumor removal.
- Radiation oncologists: people who specialize in the treatment of cancer with radiation, a process called radiotherapy
- Medical oncologists: who deal with using medication or chemotherapy to treat cancer.
In the UK, the majority of oncologists are known as Clinical Oncologists, and are fully qualified to practice both chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In most other countries these disciplines are more clearly segregated.
Oncologists may also be categorized on the basis of the patient type.
- Gynecologic oncologists specialize in the treatment of cancer in women. Gynecologic oncologists can perform and give chemotherapy and assist in radiation therapy for these cancers in women.
- Pediatric oncologists specialize in the care of children with cancer.
Oncology is concerned with:The diagnosis of cancer therapy (e.g. surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other modalities).
Follow-up of cancer patients after successful treatment palliative care of patients with terminal malignancies are also important topics within oncology.
Ethical questions surrounding cancer care can also arise.
Screening efforts of vulnerable populations, or of the relatives of patients (in types of cancer that are thought to have a heritable basis, such as breast cancer exist and are helpful in combating cancer.
The oncologist often coordinates the multidisciplinary care of cancer patients, which may involve physiotherapy, counseling, and clincal genetics, to name but a few. On the other hand, the oncologist often has to liaise with pathologists on the exact biological nature of the tumor that is being treated.
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