Oncology is the study of cancer. An oncologist is a doctor who treats cancer and provides medical care for a person diagnosed with cancer. An oncologist may also be called a cancer specialist.
A person's cancer treatment plan may include more than one type of treatment, such as surgery, cancer medications, and/or radiation therapy. That means different types of oncologists and other health care providers work together to create a patient's overall treatment plan.
The field of oncology has 3 major areas based on treatments: medical oncology, radiation oncology, and surgical oncology.
- Medical oncologists treat cancer using a medication, including chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy.
- Radiation oncologists treat cancer using radiation therapy, which is the use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to destroy cancer cells.
- Surgical oncologists treat cancer using surgery, including removing the tumor and nearby tissue during an operation. This type of surgeon can also perform certain types of biopsies to help diagnose cancer.