Oncologist (definition of)
Oncology is the specialty that deals with cancer. Like most medical terminology, it is from a Greek word, oinkos, meaning "lump" or "mass." When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, the clinical oncologist takes charge of the his/her care and treatment throughout all phases of the disease.
After graduating from an accredited medical school, the new doctor begins training in the specialty, focusing on one particular sub-specialty such as pediatric oncology, neurological cancer or mesothelioma. Within the field of clinical oncology there are three main disciplines:
- medical oncology
- surgical oncology
- radiation oncology
Medical oncologists specialize in chemotherapy and other pharmaceutical treatments; surgical oncologists specialize in biopsy, staging, and surgical removal; and radiation oncologists specialize the treatment of cancer with radiation.
A cancer patient is often treated by a team of oncologists who specialize in different fields, since most cases require a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. The team also usually includes a pathologist, a diagnostic radiologist, and an oncology nurse. In exceptionally difficult cases, a board consisting of medical experts from all relevant disciplines may contribute to the study of the patient.