Medical Oncology


Oncology is a branch of medicine that deals with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. A doctor who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy, and targeted therapy is known as a medical oncologist. A medical oncologist often is the main health care provider for someone who has cancer. A medical oncologist also gives supportive care and may coordinate treatment given by other specialists.

Once a cancer diagnosis is made, a medical oncologist is responsible for the care of that patient from the moment of diagnosis throughout the course of the disease.

When Will You See A Medical Oncologist?

You’ll probably see a medical oncologist right after you’ve been diagnosed with cancer. This is usually one of the first steps of your cancer journey.

They can help you understand your diagnosis as well as the timeline of your cancer treatment. You’ll also want to see a medical oncologist for any questions you might have. 

You may also see other oncologists depending on the type of cancer you have and what sort of a treatment plan you want. There are three main types:

  • A medical oncologist will treat your cancer with chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy.
  • A radiation oncologist will treat your cancer with radiation therapy.
  • A surgical oncologist uses surgery to remove tumors. They also perform biopsies, where they’ll remove a tiny piece of tissue so they can test it.

What Will My Medical Oncologist Do?

  • Explain the cancer diagnosis and stage (a description of the extent of the cancer) to the patient.
  • Discuss all of the treatment options and recommend the best course of treatment.
  • Deliver high-quality, compassionate care.
  • Help maintain the patient’s quality of life by managing pain and other symptoms or side effects.

Types of Treatment

With such a broad range of treatments available, your physician will assess your diagnosis and your cancer’s unique details before recommending the best treatment option for you. Our medical oncologists work with experts across many different specialties, to provide high-quality, integrated care for all types of cancer. Below are types of treatment that may be considered.

Chemotherapy: The use of drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells.

Immunotherapy: Stimulating the body’s immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells.

Targeted Therapy: Using drugs that specifically target cancer cells, usually by interfering with specific molecules involved in cancer growth.

Hormone Therapy: Treating cancers that are hormone-sensitive by blocking or suppressing the effects of hormones.

How to Prepare For an Appointment

Bring any medical records you have, like copies of imaging tests (like MRIs, CT scans, and X-rays). A list of all the medications you take could help, too. Some medical oncologists like it better when you bring the actual medications instead of a list. This includes any supplements, vitamins, or herbs.