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Your Cancer Specialists

Cancer is a complex and tricky disease, so you may need to see several different cancer specialists during your treatment. Treatment often involves the combined care of several cancer specialists at once.

What Type of Cancer Specialists Do You Need?

Basically, there are three ways to treat cancer: with medicine (as well as with hormone therapy and immunotherapy), with radiation, and with surgery. Each treatment may be handled by a different specialist. Not every person will need all three types of treatments. It depends on your type of cancer and the stage of your cancer. However, here’s a rundown of the cancer specialists you might see:

  • Medical oncologist. This is the cancer specialist you’ll probably see most often. Usually your oncologist will oversee your general care and coordinate treatments with other specialists. Your oncologist will also be in charge of chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and immunotherapy. You’ll likely visit your medical oncologist for long-term, regular checkups.
  • Radiation oncologist. This cancer specialist treats cancer with radiation therapy.
  • Surgical oncologist. This is a surgeon who has special training in treating cancer. Your surgical oncologist may be called in to diagnose cancer with a biopsy. Surgical oncologists also treat cancer by removing tumors or other cancerous tissue.

Depending on your case, you may also need to see other types of doctors for special cancer care. For instance, you may need to see a hematologist, who specializes in treating disorders of the blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes. Sometimes, surgery might be done by a general surgeon instead of a surgical oncologist. Or you might need to see a plastic surgeon if you need reconstructive surgery after treatment. You might also wish to see a psychiatrist or a psycho-oncologist, a psychiatrist who specializes in the psychological challenges of coping with cancer.

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