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The branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer is called oncology. A medical oncologist is a doctor who treats cancer patients with chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and hormone therapy.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to prevent cancer cells from growing and developing. Depending on the stage of cancer, chemotherapy can destroy the cancer cells or help in long-term remission of symptoms.
In immunotherapy, the body’s immune system is used to fight the cancer-causing cells. It is also called biological therapy. It is used in lung cancer and lymphoma (blood cancer).
Hormone therapy is used in cancers that grow with the help of hormones. In this therapy, drugs are given to stop the hormones from being formed or by preventing the hormone from making the cancer cells multiply and grow. It is used in breast cancer.
Cancer treatment requires many medical specialists working together. Your medical oncologist will coordinate your treatment plan with other specialists, and refer you to the appropriate specialist depending on your symptoms, blood reports, x-rays, and biopsy. They provide care in the form of pain management, nutritional support, hydration, etc. You can get a second opinion through online consultation, by uploading all your reports and scans.
The type of oncology (the branch that treats cancer) that deals with the diagnosis and medical treatment (mainly chemotherapy) of cancer is called medical oncology. A doctor who is trained in medical oncology and forms the medical treatment for cancer patients is called a medical oncologist.
A medical oncologist treats cancer patients using:
- Chemotherapy - Anti-cancer medicines are used in the treatment.
- Immunotherapy - These medicines boost the immune system to fight off cancer.
- Hormone therapy - Medicines are used to block the production or lower the levels of certain hormones to prevent cancer growth.
Clinical oncologists use chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and other treatment options for cancer (apart from surgery). While a medical oncologist treats cancer with only medicines.
No, a medical oncologist does not usually perform surgeries. Surgery to treat cancer are only performed by surgical oncologists.
You would have to consult a medical oncologist if you are diagnosed with any type of cancer that needs treatment with medication. On your first visit, the oncologist will take a complete medical and personal history and will look at all the preliminary test reports. If needed, he or she will tell you to undergo some more tests or will tell you all the treatment options and prescribe medications.
The common types of oncology are:
- Medical oncology.
- Surgical oncology.
- Radiation oncology.
A type of cancer treatment called immunotherapy or biologic therapy is the use of medicines to boost the immune system, which will help the body help fight off cancer naturally. Some examples of the drugs used are Ipilimumab and Nivolumab.
Methotrexate, Cytoxan, Fluorouracil, Adriamycin, Taxotere, etc., are the most commonly used drugs alone or in combination to treat cancer.
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