The Cancer Journey
Your Cancer Team
Cancer is a difficult and complex disease to treat. A patient’s cancer journey can meet many unexpected twists and turns. Whilst your oncologist will be the central doctor coordinating your care however, there will likely be many occasions where you need to be referred for input from other specialties.
A multidisciplinary approach is where doctors from different specialties work together to create the best overall treatment plan for you. This kind of team working is recognized as the best way to deliver optimal patient care and is practiced in all top cancer centers worldwide.
Oncologist. An oncologist is a doctor who specializes in managing the cancer journey and treating cancer.They will oversee your care from diagnosis to treatment, recovery and rehabilitation, surveillance follow-up and eventually cure and discharge to end of life care.It is the oncologist’s responsibility to formulate the best treatment strategy for you based on the latest cancer research and techniques available worldwide. They will manage the symptoms and side effects of cancer treatment, whilst delivering quality and compassionate care.
Different types of Oncologists (see qualifications)
- Clinical Oncologist: Focus of therapy will be on adults with solid organ cancers such as lung, breast, colorectal, prostate, brain, nasopharyngeal cancer, gynecological cancers etc. If graduated from the UK, will be trained and qualified in internal medicine as well as oncology. Licensed to deliver both systemic therapy and radiotherapy.
- Medical Oncologist: Focus of therapy will be on adults with solid organ cancers. Licensed to deliver systemic therapy only and needs to work with a clinical oncologist or radiation oncologist for radiotherapy.
- Radiation Oncologist : Focus of therapy will be on adults with solid organ cancers. Licensed to deliver radiotherapy only and needs to work with a medical or clinical oncologist to deliver systemic therapy
- Haematologist (or haemato-oncologist) : Focus of therapy will be on adults with cancer of the blood or lymphatic system namely leukaemia and lymphoma. Licensed to deliver systemic therapy only and needs to work with a clinical oncologist or radiation oncologist for radiotherapy.
- Paediatric oncologist – treats cancers in children (younger than 16 years old) including solid organ and blood cancers (leukemia and lymphoma). Will be trained in general paediatrics followed by further specialized cancer training. Licensed to deliver systemic therapy only and needs to work with a clinical oncologist or radiation oncologist for radiotherapy.
Surgeon is a medical doctor who specializes in performing operations to remove tumours.
Pathologist is a medical doctor who specializes in looking at cells, tissues, and organs to diagnose disease. While the pathologist plays an essential role in determining what type of cancer you have, if is likely a patient may never meet their pathologist.
Diagnostic radiologist is a medical doctor that specializes in using imaging scans to help diagnose disease. They help the oncologist to spot if the cancer has spread, and determine the size and number of tumors. They will produce an official written report that is helpful for the oncologist.
Interventional radiologist is a medical doctor that specializes in using imaging scans to help them perform procedures. These include biopsy and ablation procedures such as mircowave ablation, cryotherapy, TACE (transarterial chemoembolization).
Nuclear medicine physician is a medical doctor that specialises in using radioactive substances to image and treat patients. This includes diagnostic PET-CT scanning and therapeutic radioactive iodine ablation for thyroid cancer.
Palliative care team. The palliative care team is made up of doctors and nurses and works closely with other oncology team members in order to minimize, prevent and treat the symptoms and side effects that cancer may bring. They provide invaluable medical and psychological support for patients and their caregivers
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Registered dietitian (RD). Cancer can often cause certain dietary needs, and as such, an RD works alongside the patient to educate them on eating well and provides recommendations on how best to adjust their eating habits to cope with their new needs. In hospitals and other health care centers, the dietitian provides medical nutrition therapy.
Rehabilitation team. Consists of doctors and other allied health professionals (physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists) who help people with cancer return to their highest level of functioning.