Oncology - Cancer Care

 Oncology is a branch of medicine which is concerned about the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. A health professional that practices oncology is known as an oncologist. An oncologist is a doctor whose area of specialization is in diagnosing and treating cancer. Your oncologist supervises your concern from diagnosis to disease development. Generally, a person with cancer is often treated with a team of oncologists specializing in different fields of oncology.

The study of cancer is known as oncology. An oncologist is a doctor who treats cancers and provides medical care to an individual that has been diagnosed with cancer.

The field of oncology covers three main areas: medical, surgical and radiation.

• A medical oncologist treats cancers with the use of chemotherapy or other drugs, such as targeted therapy or immunotherapy.

• A surgical oncologist gets rid of a tumor and surrounding tissue during surgery. He/she also performs some types of biopsies to help diagnose cancer.

• A radiation oncologist treats cancer with the use of radiation therapy.

Other types of oncologists are listed below:

• A gynecological oncologist treats gynecologic cancer (different than gynecology treatments), such as uterine, ovarian and cervical cancers.

• A pediatric is the oncologist that treats cancer in children. Some types of cancer most commonly occur in children and adolescents. This includes certain brain tumors, leukemia, osteosarcoma, and Ewing's sarcoma. The most common types of cancer in children are sometimes seen in adults. In such situations, an adult may decide to work in tandem with a pediatric oncologist.

• A hematologist-oncologist diagnosis and treats blood cancer, such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.


1. Breast Cancer Treatment

There are so many ways to treat breast cancer; this depends on the type of breast cancer and its extent. Individuals with breast cancer are often subjected to different types of treatment.

1. Surgery. This involves operation doctors need to cut out cancerous tissue.

2. Chemotherapy. This involves the use of special drugs to reduce or kill cancer cells. Medications can be tablets you take or medicines given in your veins, or sometimes both.

3. Hormone therapy. It prevents cancer cells from getting hormones that are needed for growth.

4. Biological Therapy. Work with your immune system to help fight cancer cells or control the side effects of other cancer treatments.

5. Radiation therapy. This involves the use of high-energy rays (similar to X-rays) to kill cancer cells.

Treatment of breast cancer is done by doctors from various specialties. Surgeons are doctors who carry out the operation. Medical oncologists are doctors who treat cancer with drugs. Radiation oncologists are doctors who treat cancer with the use of radiation.

2. Cancer of Unknown Primary

Cancer can develop anywhere in the body. The organ or region of the body where cancer begins is called the primary site. Cancer including cancer that metastasizes or spreads to create new tumors elsewhere in the body - gets the name from the primary site. For example, colon cancer which spreads to the liver is called metastatic colon cancer, rather than liver cancer because it contains colon cancer cells.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 2 to 5% of all cancer patients have metastatic (secondary) tumors for which routine tests cannot be able to locate the primary site. This is referred to as cancer of unknown primary origin (CUP). Patients may be diagnosed with cancer of unknown primary origin if the primary tumor is too small to be identified with routine imaging tests, it regresses (disappears) before the secondary tumor appears or if the secondary tumor has several possible primary sites. Sometimes during the operation, the primary tumor is discovered to treat other conditions. Cancer of unknown primary origin can occur anywhere in the body, but most commonly in lymph nodes, liver, lungs, bones and skin.


3. CyberKnife treatment

CyberKnife is one of the complex forms of radiosurgery. Cyberknife is a non-invasive and painless treatment that provides high doses of radiation to kill targeted tumors or lesions in the body. It makes use of a robotic arm to deliver highly focused beams of radiation. The flexibility of the robotic arm makes it possible to treat body parts such as the spinal cord and spine, which cannot be treated with other radiosurgery techniques.

In most of the cases, patients that are treated with CyberKnife would already have been considered impossible to treat by surgical intervention or conventional radiotherapy.


Radiosurgery reduces radiation exposure to healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. Compared to other radiosurgical treatments, CyberKnife offers several benefits to patients, including quick relief pain and other symptoms.

The treatments are carried out on an outpatient basis; it takes 30 and 90 minutes before completing the procedure. The number of treatments varies depending on the size of the tumor, its location, and shape, but usually lasts only one to five daily sessions are required. The CyberKnife permits patients to lie comfortably on the procedure table without anesthesia while the robotic arm moves without contact with them to treat all areas of the tumor.

Recovery is often immediate, given the low risk of complications and damage to healthy tissue.

Some conditions can be treated with various non-invasive radiotherapy devices called Gamma Knife, which also gives a single, finely focused, high dose of radiation.


4. Proton Therapy

This is a type of radiation therapy that makes use of high energy beams to treat tumors. Radiation therapy that uses X-rays has long been used to treat cancers and noncancerous (benign) tumors. Proton therapy is a type of established type of radiotherapy which makes use of energy from positively charged particles which are referred to as protons.

Proton therapy has shown promise in treating several types of cancer. Studies have shown that proton therapy might have fewer side effects than traditional radiation because doctors can better control where the proton beams store their energy. However, several studies directly compared proton therapy radiation and X-ray radiation. Therefore, it is difficult to know if proton therapy is more effective in extending live.


5. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is widely used for the treatment of cancer. The term chemotherapy refers to the drugs which prevent the division and growth of cancer cells. This is achieved by the killing of the dividing cells. To achieve these goals, a wide range of drugs is used. The effectiveness of this procedure depends to some extent on the stage of the cancer being treated. Side effects can be serious and patients should talk to their doctor about what to expect. The benefits of chemotherapy generally overcome the risk of harmful effects.

How does chemotherapy work?

It targets the cells that grow and divide rapidly, as cancer cells do. In contrast to radiation or surgery that targets certain areas, chemotherapy can work on the whole body. But it can also affect fast-growing healthy cells such as skin, hair, intestines and bone marrow. This results in some of the side effects of treatment.

Methods of delivering chemotherapy

Some procedures for the delivery of chemotherapy include:

  • Orally (by mouth as a pill or liquid)
  • Intravenously (by infusion into a vein) 
  • Topically (as a cream on the skin)
  • Injection
  • Direct placement (via a lumbar puncture or device placed under the scalp)

When chemotherapy drugs pass through the blood to reach the body's cells, we are talking about systemic chemotherapy. When chemotherapy drugs are directed to a specific area of the body, it is referred to as regional chemotherapy.

What does chemotherapy do?

Chemotherapy drugs can:

  • impair mitosis or prevent cell division, as in the case of cytotoxic drugs
  • Target the food source of cancer cells, which consist of enzymes and hormones that they need to, grow
  • Stimulate the suicide of cancer cells, medically known as apoptosis
  • stop the growth of new blood vessels that supply a tumor in order to starve it


What to expect

Chemotherapy is an invasive treatment that can have serious side effects. Indeed, drugs often target not only cancer cells but also healthy cells. Side effects may be worrisome, but when given at an early stage, with chemotherapy complete healing can be achieved. This makes the side effects to be tolerable by many patients. Patients should have a better understanding of what is going to be the outcome of the procedure before initiating the treatment.


How long does it last?

In order to achieve optimum results, the patient will need regular chemotherapy for a time which will be determined by an oncologist or a cancer specialist. A plan will be drawn up which will indicate when treatment sessions will occur and for how long. The course of treatment differs as it may be from single dose on one day to a few weeks; this is dependent on the type and stage of cancer.

Patients that require more than one course of treatment will have a rest period to help their body recover. Treatment can take place on one day, followed by a week of rest, another treatment one day, followed by a three-week rest period, etc. This can be repeated many times. A psychologist or counselor may be available to assist the patient to deal with the mental and emotional trials of chemotherapy.


The branch of medicine which plays vital role in carrying out researches, identification and treatment of cancer is known as oncology. Oncologist on the other hand is the name given to a physician who works in the field of oncology.


The roles performed by oncologists include the diagnosis of a cancer, which is usually done through biopsy, endoscopy, X-ray, CT scanning, MRI, PET scanning, ultrasound or other radiological methods. Cancer can also be diagnosed with the use of nuclear medicine, as can blood tests or tumor markers. Chemotherapy, proton therapy, and cyberknife treatment among others are some of the procedures used by oncologist to treat different types of cancer.

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