Cancer Doctors

Cancer Doctors

Cancer Doctors
May 18
11:53 2017

Cancer doctors focus their entire careers to help their
patients battle cancer. The fight against cancer first begins with a correct
diagnosis after discussions regarding symptoms and diagnostic tests are
performed. Cancer doctors discuss with their patients the best ways to go about
treating their specific cancer. Once the cancer has been treated to the best of
a doctor and their team’s ability, additional testing and treatment takes place
to prevent the spread or recurrence of cancer.

Cancer is a complicated and life threatening disease no
matter where it forms in the body. Cancer that goes untreated will most often
result in death for a patient. A disease so complex calls for a series of
doctors, all with specialties in different fields of cancer treatment. Much of
the knowledge regarding the different areas of expertise overlap, as many
cancers act similarly. Some doctors may seem to be experts in more than one
field, but unless they are certified in that area they should not be treated as
a specialist.

The main specialty fields for the cancer disease are
oncology, pathology, pediatric oncology, radiology, and surgical oncology.
These fields cover everything from the make-up of a tumor, if cells are
cancerous in that tumor, children’s cancer treatment, imaging tests and the
removal of cancerous tumors and tissues. Despite the combined knowledge of all
these specialists, a patient’s prognosis mostly depends on whether or not they
decided to go to the doctor for a check-up before cancer cells have


Oncologists study cancerous tumors. They are medically
approved doctors who specialize in examining tumors so that a correct diagnosis
can be made. Oncologists usually work out of hospitals or clinical trials. The
field of oncology as a whole is broad, some oncologists elect to specialize in
specific areas such as gynecology oncology or pediatric oncology.

Oncologists use diagnostic tests to determine if a
tumor is cancerous and if so, to what degree. Some diagnostic tests used by
oncologists when studying a tumor are:

Biopsies- Biopsies take a piece of tissue and the cells
of that tissue are studied under a microscope

Endoscopy- An endoscopy is characterized by the
insertion of a tube down a patient’s throat or another entrance to examine a
hollow organ. The endoscopy uses magnifying glasses similarly to a pair of

Imaging tests create images of the inside of a
patient’s body. There are various different machines that can create images to
be used by an oncologist such as CT scans, MRIs, x-rays and ultrasounds. The
size, location and metastases of a tumor can be checked using imaging tests.

Blood tests are used to check for elevated levels of
protein called tumor markers. These blood tests can help an oncologist find and
then examine a tumor. 

Treatment options can be discussed following
examination of a tumor by a trained oncologist.


Pathologists research diseases in the body in great
detail. They are concerned with what causes a disease, how it effects the body
and why it continues to develop. They also are experts in diagnosing a patient
based on close examination of their cells. If pathologists can figure out what
causes a disease such as cancer, there is a greater likelihood of finding a
cure for that disease. When examining a body, pathologists study the bodily
fluids, organs, tissues, and whole bodies are explored during autopsies.
Pathologists are certified medical doctors that also have a doctoral degree in

Some medical experts believe the acknowledgment of a
pathologist regarding a diagnosis is the only way to be 100% accurate when
diagnosing a patient. Pathologists are the only medical doctors with training
in the specialty field of examining and diagnosing cells and tissues under a
microscope. A popular misconception is that doctors without degree in pathology
can make a cancer diagnosis based on imaging tests. While doctors may be right
about a diagnosis most of the time based on imaging tests, they are not
qualified to make the final diagnosis. A wrong diagnosis could cost a patient
their life. The pathologist first determines if the cells found in the tissue
sample are malignant or benign. Malignant cells will be classified and the
correct stage of cancer will be relayed back to the patients personal doctor.
Second opinions are important to obtain because studies show even pathologists
offer the wrong diagnosis 2%-4% of the time.


Pediatric oncology is the study of cancer among
children. Pediatric oncology is a specialty area of medicine that requires 14
years of education beyond high school. Much of the pediatric oncology practices
are similar to general oncology. What separates oncology and pediatric oncology
is how pediatric doctors deal with children. Pediatric oncologists need to set
up a plan for offering prognoses. Most times the pediatric doctor will explain
the effects cancer will have on the child to that child’s parents. Prognoses
and treatment options are sensitive subjects for anyone, especially children.
While the diagnostic methods for pediatric oncology are the same as the general
oncology field, imaging tests, blood tests, etc., the communication is
completely different.

Treatment methods are discussed between the oncologist,
the child and their parents. While it is important to get the opinion of the
child regarding treatment options, ultimately the parents know what is best for
their children. Children can be easily scared off by side effects or possible
outcomes discussed with a doctor. Pediatric oncologists must be able to relay
to their young patients that they known what is best for them and they are
expertly trained to help them survive any disease. Pediatric oncologists
actually do get to enjoy more success stories as young kids are less likely to
die than older people as a result of diseases such as cancer.


Radiology is a specialized branch of medicine that
focuses on imaging tests to diagnose and treat diseases. The field of radiology
is competitive to get into and technology advances are constantly improving the
imaging tests used by radiologists. Radiologists use three main imaging tests
to locate tumors and track their growth or malignancy. The three imaging tests
are CT scans, magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasounds.

Computed Tomography Tests (CT scans) use energy beams
to shoot radiation through a patient’s body to create images. Because CT scans
use computers to create images, the images created can be much clearer than
standard x-rays and even enlarged on a computer. CT scans can locate a tumor
and determine it’s size. Multiple scans over time are a good way to track the
growth of tumors.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) tests use magnetic
forces to create images of the body rather than radiation beams. Images of
organs and tissues are taken from all angles during an MRI, giving doctors the
best possible view of an area. MRIs are especially useful for locating brain
tumors. Contrast can be added to MRI images which allows tumors in the brain to
be classified as benign or malignant. MRIs have become the most common way to
examine a female’s uterus while checking for uterine cancer. MRIs are also
important for determining whether cancer has metastasized from one site to

Ultrasounds use sound waves to create images of the
insides of a patient. Images created by ultra sounds are called sonograms. The
tool that produces the sound waves that run through a patient’s body is called
a transducer. The transducer usually is rubbed along the surface of the skin
but in some cases it is inserted in the esophagus, vagina, or rectum.
Ultrasounds are effective because sound waves can produce images after they bounce
off of tissues and organs. The image created on a sonogram from a sound wave
that bounced off of a tumor is different from the image created from bouncing
off of healthy tissue.


Surgical Oncologists is a specialized field of oncology,
although it is not certified by the medical board. A group of surgical
oncologists formed the Society of Surgical Oncologists. They created
fellowships that if completed, would certify a surgeon as a oncology surgeon.
Oncology surgeons are focused on removal of cancerous tumors as well as any
other tissues or organs that need to be removed.

The main concern of surgical oncologists is safe tumor
excision. Excision of a tumor stops that tumor from spreading cancer cells to
other sites in the body. Removal of the main tumor does not guarantee good
health. If cancer cells from the tumor have already spread the patient’s
chances of survival decrease dramatically.

Removal of the lymph nodes by a oncology surgeon is a
good way to diagnose cancer. If the nodes are infected the cancer has likely
metastasized beyond the original location and the nodes.

Some patients will be cured after surgery performed by
an oncologist while others will just be in the beginning of their cancer
treatment program. Chemotherapy and radiation treatment usually follow surgery
to remove a cancerous tumor.

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