Chances are good that you have heard conflicting information about preventing cancer. Some studies show that some types of activities can prevent cancer. Other studies may advise against that activity. Unfortunately, current knowledge about preventing cancer is still evolving. However, making good lifestyle choices can help reduce your chances of getting cancer.Tobacco products can put…
FAQs About Oncologists and Cancer Treatments
After receiving a cancer diagnosis, it can be difficult to know where to turn. With the right questions, it is possible to find an oncologist who can provide quality patient care during treatment and recovery and ease a patient’s concerns.
Common questions cancer patients ask
When diagnosed with cancer, patients can have questions that range from finding a doctor to the types of treatments available.
How can a patient find an oncologist?
If the doctor who diagnosed a patient’s cancer is not an oncologist, that medical professional can provide references to doctors who specialize in treating cancer. Cancer is more common than many people realize, and friends or family members who have battled similar cancers can provide recommendations based on personal experiences. Insurance companies can offer information about doctors covered under a patient’s insurance plan, and searchable databases from medical organizations like the American Medical Association can provide a list of doctors who specialize in cancer treatment.
What are the different types of oncologists?
There are three general areas of specialization in cancer treatment: medical, surgical and radiation. The most common type of oncologist is a medical oncologist. This specialist uses drug combination as treatment (typically known as chemotherapy), immunotherapy and targeted therapy. Surgical oncologists are surgeons who specialize in removing tumors and any surrounding tissue affected by the cancer. Radiation oncologists use radiation therapy to treat more localized cancers.
What is a cancer care team?
While the oncologist is the focal point of contact for a cancer patient, they must rely on a team of staff members to provide quality care. This team can include other oncologists or specialized doctors, also called a multidisciplinary team, who work together to create the best course of action for each patient. Care teams can include these other members:
- Oncology nurse
- Physical therapist
- Oncology social worker
How is cancer treated?
Cancer treatment depends on a multitude of factors, including the type of cancer and factors related directly to the patient. In general, cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of the three. In recent years, stem cell and bone marrow transplants have also been used in treatment.
The treatment type chosen varies from patient to patient. The patient’s overall health plays an important role as certain cancer treatments can carry a higher risk if administered to a patient who is already compromised. Patients also have the ability to make informed decisions about treatments based on the side effects, the probability of a cure, and the overall impact on quality of life.
A doctor’s decision about treatment can rely heavily on experience treating a specific type of cancer. However, a reputable doctor also uses current research for guidance. In the end, despite experience and research trends, the doctor’s choice comes down to the patient and their goals with treatment.
Cancer treatments vary, but the first goal is to find a doctor and team who can make a patient feel comfortable. By asking questions and doing research, patients can find the support needed for recovery.
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