As you go through treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), you'll have a team of health pros on your side. Some are specialists, with specific training in how to diagnose and manage your disease. Others know how to give you support as you deal with a roller coaster of emotions.
Oncologists are doctors who have a specialty in treating cancer. Your primary oncologist will oversee the bulk of your care and treat you throughout the course of your illness.
Because AML is a cancer of the blood, you'll likely see a hematologist-oncologist, an expert in blood cancers. He can help explain your disease to you and recommend which specialists you might need for specific treatments or to help manage side effects.
A radiologist is a medical doctor who's an expert in the tests that help diagnose and treat your AML.
Radiologists review imaging tools like X-rays, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, computer tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These tests look inside your body and track and gather more information about your disease.
If you need to get radiation therapy, you'll see a specialist called a radiation oncologist.
You may never meet your pathologist, but he's an important member of your team. He's a doctor who works "behind the scenes" to read lab tests that help diagnose and stage your AML.
Pathologists analyze samples of tissue from your body to figure out if your treatments are working and whether or not you need changes in your therapies.
These specially trained nurses have experience in caring for people with cancer.
Your oncology nurse will help manage your treatment side effects. He'll also help educate you about your disease so you know what to expect.
Dietitians or Nutritionists
Experts in nutrition, like registered dietitians and nutritionists, help you make sure you're getting the vitamins, minerals, energy, and water you need to stay as healthy as possible during and after your treatments.
They can show you how to keep up the right diet to help so you stay strong as you manage your disease. They're also a great resource to help you deal with things like appetite loss, trouble absorbing food, and problems with taste or smell caused by treatment.
The side effects of cancer treatment aren't all physical. Emotional and mental issues may crop up as well. That's why it pays to have a psychologist on your team.
A psychologist can teach you ways to manage your feelings, including anxiety and depression.
If your psychologist thinks you may benefit from medication to help control your mental health, he may send you to a psychiatrist, who can prescribe these drugs.
Psychologists can also help you deal with other stressful things brought on by your cancer, like how to talk to others about your health, how to keep up important relationships, and how to deal with issues in your workplace.
Oncology social workers can help you and your family while you go through cancer treatment. Think of them as advocates and guides as you piece together the many parts of your medical care.
A social worker can talk through the questions you might need to ask your medical team to better understand your treatment plan. He can also help you figure out the financial side of cancer, connecting you to resources you need so you can pay for your care.