Oncology is the branch of medicine that researches, identifies and treats cancer. A physician who works in the field of oncology is an oncologist. This field of medicine is devoted to cancer. Clinical oncology consists of three primary disciplines: medical oncology (the treatment of cancer with medicine, including chemotherapy), surgical oncology (the surgical aspects of cancer including biopsy, staging, and surgical resection of tumors), and radiation oncology (the treatment of cancer with therapeutic radiation).
In the most basic terms, cancer refers to cells that grow out-of-control and invade other tissues. Cells may become cancerous due to the accumulation of defects, or mutations, in their DNA. Certain inherited genetic defects and infections can increase the risk of cancer. Environmental factors and poor lifestyle choices such as smoking and heavy alcohol use can also damage DNA and lead to cancer
Most of the time, cells are able to detect and repair DNA damage. If a cell is severely damaged and cannot repair itself, it usually undergoes so-called programmed cell death or apoptosis. Cancer occurs when damaged cells grow, divide, and spread abnormally instead of self-destructing as they should.
Surgical oncology is the branch of surgery applied to oncology; it focuses on the surgical management of tumors, especially cancerous tumors. A surgical oncologist is a surgeon who has special training in treating cancer. Surgical oncologist may be called in to diagnose cancer with a biopsy. Surgical oncologists also treat cancer by removing tumors or other cancerous tissue.
Medical Oncology is a modality of treatment in cancer care which uses Chemotherapy, Immunotherapy, Hormonal Therapy and Targeted Therapy to treat cancer in an effective manner. Medical Oncology usually works in conjunction with Surgical Oncology or Radiation Oncology to give the best clinical outcomes. A medical oncologist is the cancer specialist you’ll probably see most often. Usually, oncologist will oversee your general care and coordinate treatments with other specialists. Oncologist will also look after the chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and immunotherapy. You’ll likely visit your medical oncologist for long-term and regular checkups.
Depending on your case, you may also need to see other types of doctors for special cancer care. For instance, you may need to see a hematologist, who specializes in treating disorders of the blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes. Sometimes, surgery might be done by a general surgeon instead of a surgical oncologist. If you are looking for a reconstructive surgery after treatment you might need to see a plastic surgeon for the best results. You might also wish to see a several specialists who have the experience to check for the psychological challenges of coping with cancer.