Cancer : Specialists

What is cancer?

Cancer is a disease caused by uncontrollable cell growth in the body. These cells multiply to form a tumour which can either be benign or malignant. A benign tumour doesn’t usually cause any problems but a malignant tumour is cancerous.

Cancer cells within a malignant tumour have the ability to travel through the bloodstream to other organs of the body. Once there they may divide to form a secondary cancer or metastasis.

The medical name for the study of cancer is oncology.

What is a cancer specialist?

Also known as an oncologist, this clinician is a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. A cancer specialist may choose a particular area such as gynaecologic oncology (cancers of the female reproductive system) whereas others may opt for surgical or radiation oncology.

Cancer patients are treated by a multi-disciplinary team which includes a cancer specialist.

What does a cancer specialist do?

A cancer specialist works as part of a team which diagnoses and treats all types of cancer. There are a variety of sub-sections within this role which includes:

  • Prescribing radiation therapy for cancer
  • Working closely with a surgeon who specialises in the removal of tumours (surgical oncology).
  • Specialising in a particular area such as paediatric (children) or gynaecological (women) oncology.
  • Advise patients about chemotherapy or other forms of medical oncology.

Cancer is a complex disease which requires a comprehensive treatment plan, prescribed by a multi-disciplinary team. This team will include a cancer specialist, radiologist, surgeon, a pathologist and possibly the patient’s own GP.

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