Cancer is a devastating disease, and surgery is often recommended for its many forms. Consulting with a surgical oncologist helps you understand your recommended procedure and clear any misconceptions about the surgery and the specific type of cancer. Here are common questions and answers people may have when speaking with a surgical oncologist.Many people are…
5 Reasons a Patient Might Be Referred to an Oncologist
There is often a cause for concern when a person receives a referral to an oncologist. These referrals are common when another medical professional suspects the patient has cancer. Oncologists are specialized physicians who can diagnose, treat, and provide comprehensive care for patients with cancer. While a referral to an oncologist may cause anxiety, it is important to remember that early detection and intervention can significantly improve treatment outcomes. This blog post will explore five common reasons you may be referred to an oncologist.
What is an oncologist?
An oncologist is a healthcare provider who diagnoses and treats different types of cancer. They help diagnoses cancer, identify each available treatment option, and oversee treatment. Oncologists also help patients manage their post-treatment care.
Different types of oncologists
Cancer is multifaceted and affects different parts of the body. This is why there are several types of oncologists. Some of these specialists focus on certain treatments, while others specialize in specific types of cancer. Some examples of the different types of oncologists include:
- Surgical oncologists. If a biopsy shows cancer cells, a surgical oncologist performs the procedure to remove the cancer so it does not spread. They remove the tumor and surrounding tissues and help the patient recover from surgery.
- Medical oncologists. These providers treat cancer using targeted treatments, such as chemotherapy and immunotherapy. They are often thought of as the primary cancer doctor.
- Radiation oncologists. Radiation oncologists use radiation therapy. This treatment is specialized based on each patient's specific cancer.
- Pediatric oncologists. These oncologists treat cancers commonly occurring in children, such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia and Ewing sarcoma.
- Gynecologic oncologists. Gynecologic oncologists treat cancers in female patients, such as ovarian, cervical, and uterine cancer.
- Neurological oncologists. These oncologists focus on treating patients with brain tumors and cancer that affect their nervous system.
5 Reasons a patient might be referred to an Oncologist
1. Abnormal test results
One of the most common reasons for a referral to an oncologist is the presence of abnormal test results. Diagnostic tests, such as imaging scans, blood tests, biopsies, or screenings, can reveal certain cancer indications. These abnormal test results may not always indicate cancer, but they raise red flags that warrant further testing by a qualified specialist.
2. Suspicion of cancer
When a primary care physician suspects cancer after reviewing the patient's symptoms, they may refer the patient to an oncologist. Common symptoms that raise suspicion include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Persistent pain
- Unusual lumps or growths
- Changes in bowel or bladder habits
- Chronic fatigue
- Presence of unusual moles
A referral to an oncologist is crucial since it allows for specialized testing and expertise in confirming or ruling out cancer.
3. Family history of cancer
A significant risk factor for developing cancer is having a family history of the disease. Certain types of cancer, such as breast, ovarian, colorectal, and prostate, can run in some families due to inherited genetic mutations. When a patient has a family history of cancer, their primary care physician may refer them to an oncologist for genetic counseling and testing. Oncologists can assess the patient's risk and develop personalized screening and prevention techniques based on their genetic profile.
4. Post-treatment monitoring
After undergoing and completing cancer treatment, patients will require continuous monitoring and surveillance to detect short- or long-term side effects. Following initial treatment, such as surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy, patients are referred to an oncologist to ensure their cancer does not return or progress. Regular follow-up appointments, imaging scans, and blood tests are scheduled to monitor the patient's health and detect any signs of recurrence early. Cancer survivors need oncologists for comprehensive post-treatment care and support.
5. Multidisciplinary cancer care
Oncologists are integral members of multidisciplinary cancer care teams. These teams consist of various specialists, including surgeons, pathologists, and radiologists. Cancer care teams collaborate to provide comprehensive and personalized treatment plans for patients with cancer.
In complex cases requiring multiple treatment modalities, a patient may be referred to an oncologist to ensure coordinated and optimal care. The oncologist will assess the patient's condition, develop a treatment plan, and work closely with other specialists to provide the most effective outcomes for the patient.
Receiving a referral to an oncologist can be a daunting experience for patients and their families. However, it is important to remember that early detection, specialized care, and comprehensive approaches can significantly improve cancer treatment outcomes. If you or someone you love receives such a referral, it is important to follow up as soon as possible with the oncologist to ensure the best possible care and support in your cancer journey. Call our office to schedule an appointment. Our team is here to support you and your loved ones through this confusing and difficult time.
Request an appointment here: https://lindenbergcancer.com or call Lindenberg Cancer & Hematology Center at (856) 475-0876 for an appointment in our Marlton office.
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