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Ovarian Cancer: Your Health Care Team

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on April 30, 2021

As you get treatment for ovarian cancer, you’ll have a whole group of professionals behind you. They will ensure you get quality care. Cancer specialists often work as a team. Each one plays a specific role in your care.

Your primary care doctor may refer you to a cancer hospital or specialist to get your care team started. Choosing your care team is one of the most important decisions you'll make.

Ovarian Cancer Doctors

A few different types of doctors may be on your treatment team, including a:

Gynecologic oncologist. An oncologist is a cancer doctor. Gynecologic oncologists treat cancers of the female reproductive organs, including the ovaries, uterus, cervix, and vagina. This doctor may be the head of your team and the one who plans your care. Gynecologic oncologists also perform surgery and treat cancer with chemotherapy and other medicines.

Medical oncologist. This doctor treats you with chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and other medicines.

Radiation oncologist. Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses strong beams of energy to kill cancer cells. A radiation oncologist may use it to treat ovarian cancer that has spread to other parts of your body, such as your brain or spinal cord.

Radiologist. They read imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, PET scans, or ultrasounds. Radiologists use these tests to diagnose your cancer and follow your response to treatment.

Surgeon or surgical oncologist. These doctors remove cancers with surgery.

Pathologist. They examine tissue removed during a biopsy to diagnose your cancer, learn what type it is, and predict how quickly it might spread. Knowing this information helps your doctor plan treatment.

Other Ovarian Cancer Specialists

These professionals make up the rest of your ovarian cancer care team:

Physician assistants. These medical professionals work with your doctor to diagnose your cancer, come up with your treatment plan, and manage your care.

Registered nurses. Nurses care for and support you during treatment. Some of their many jobs are to give you medicine, teach you about your cancer, and keep track of your progress.

Nurse practitioners. These registered nurses have more advanced training. Like a doctor, a nurse practitioner can diagnose and treat cancer, order X-rays and other tests, and manage your care.

Psychologists or counselors. These mental health professionals help you talk through your feelings about cancer and its effects on your life.

Social workers. These licensed professionals support you and your family. They can help you find support groups, housing, financial assistance, child care, transportation, or other services.

Dietitians. Healthy eating is especially important when you have cancer. The right diet will help you maintain your weight and feel better during treatment. A dietitian will plan out a diet that fits your special nutritional needs.

Genetic counselors. Your doctor might refer you to one of these professionals if you have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer. Genetic counselors test you for the genes that raise the risk for these cancers, explain the results, and help you decide next steps.

Sexual health experts. Ovarian cancer and its treatments can disrupt your sex life. If the doctor who treats your cancer doesn't discuss sexual issues with you, a sex counselor or therapist can help. This specialist will get to the root of the problems you're having and offer treatments.

You might see other health care professionals, too. Get to know all the members of your care team. Each one of them will play an important role in your cancer treatment.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of PAs: "What is a PA?"

American Cancer Society: "Radiation Therapy for Ovarian Cancer," "Treating Ovarian Cancer."

American College of Radiology: "What is a Radiologist?"

CancerCare: "The Value of Oncology Social Workers."

Cancer.Net: "Counseling," "Your Sexual Health and Cancer: What to Know, What to Do."

CDC: "Genetic Counseling for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer."

Cedars-Sinai: "Can I See a Nurse Practitioner Instead of a Doctor?"

Gwynedd Mercy University: "RN vs. BSN: A Guide to Understanding What Degree You Need."

International Journal of Gynecological Cancer: "Sexual Health as Part of Gynecologic Cancer Care: What Do Patients Want?"

Mayo Clinic: "Ovarian Cancer," "Radiation Therapy."

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: "The Role of Pathology."

Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance: "Nutrition for the Ovarian Cancer Patient."

Society of Gynecologic Oncology: "What is a Gynecologic Oncologist?"

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