eDiseases


Oncologist

Oncologist

May 18
11:53 2017

Oncology is the practice of studying cancerous
tumors. One who studies oncology is known as an oncologist. Oncologists are
medically approved doctors who work out of hospitals or clinical trials.
Oncologist are mainly focused on examining, diagnosing and treating tumors.
They can study specific tumors such as breast cancer tumors, brain tumors,
bowel tumors and Hodgkins’ disease to name a few. Some oncologists may elect to
enter specific fields such as gynecology oncology or pediatric oncology.
Entering into a specific field to become an expert in that area requires
additional training.

Diagnosis

Oncologists grow to become very close with the patients they are treating.
Initially, discussions are held regarding symptoms when a patient visits an
oncologist. Personal medical history and family medical history are also
discussed in addition to detailed symptom discussions. Oncologists use the
information given to them from a patient and decide which tests should be
performed. A tumor can be diagnosed by an oncologist through various methods.
Oncologists need to be adequately trained to perform all the diagnostic methods
on a patient regarding a possible tumor because certain situations may call for
a blood test while another may only be diagnosed through a biopsy.

Diagnostic Tests Include:

A biopsy– During a biopsy, pieces of
tissue are removed from a tumor or the entire tumor is removed. The entire
tumor or the tissue that has been removed can be examined. The oncologist will
check for cancer cells and the current stage of cancer can be determined. A
biopsy is one of the most reliable diagnostic tests for diagnosing cancer.

Endoscopy– An endoscopy is
characterized by inserting a tube in the body to examine a hollow organ or
cavity. The tube uses magnifying glasses attached to an endoscope to view
inside the body. An endoscope is useful for diagnosing tumors that are located
in the digestive and respiratory tract.

Imaging Tests– Imaging tests are
painless methods of diagnosing patients. X-rays, magnetic resonance image
tests, ultrasounds and CT scans can all create images from inside a patient’s
body. Chest x-rays are often used for locating and determining the size of
tumors. Ultrasounds use sound waves to create images of tumors and cancer cells
throughout the body. MRI tests use strong magnets to form strong contrasts
between images of organs and tissues in the body. CT scans can take many
different pictures of inside a patient and slice them together to create a
detailed three-dimensional image. All of these tests have the ability to find
tumors and determine if cancer cells from that tumor have spread to other sites
in the body.

Blood Tests– Oncologists mainly use
blood tests to check for tumor markers. Tumor markers are elevated levels of
protein in the blood that suggest there is a tumor located somewhere in a
patient.

Treatment Options

Oncologists discuss with their patients the best way to treat a tumor upon
discovery. After a diagnosis has been made, an oncologist will give their
opinion on how treatment should proceed. Treatment could involve surgery to
remove a tumor or treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation to shrink a
tumor. Surgery to completely remove tumors is not always an option. The
oncologist may determine that the tumor is too likely to spread to other sites
if disturbed. Radiation and chemotherapy are often used by oncologists to
shrink and eventually destroy a tumor. Radiation and chemotherapy enter the
blood stream and cancer killing drugs are circulated to areas that contain
cancer cells.

There are instances when surgery will not cure a patient but the oncologist may
believe it is still the best option for increasing a patient’s remaining years
to live.

Ethics

There are difficult moments in an oncologist’s career that do not occur in an
operating room. Oncologists must use their best judgment when revealing a
prognosis to patients. Cancer patients can be any age and there could be
instances when it is best to not tell a patient that they have an extremely
poor prognosis. For example, a young child with stage four cancer should not be
told how many years they have to live; telling the patient’s parents first may
be a better option.

Clinical trials play an important role in creating new medicines and procedures
to cure diseases. If a patient has little chance of surviving an extended
period of time, an oncologist may recommend the patient join a clinical trial
to help research continue and also possibly find a cure for that patient
through the trial.

If a patient is not responding well to treatment, an oncologist may leave the
decision up to the patient whether they want to continue treatment or
discontinue.

Lastly, oncologist sometimes have to discuss with a patient and their family if
they would like to be put on a “Do Not Resuscitate” list. This will
prevent the hospital from keeping a patient alive that would pass away without
the assistance of respiratory and cardiac equipment.

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