Cancer Treatment Team

What types of specialists help treat cancer?

The different members of your cancer team offer many kinds of help. They can help you deal with the physical and emotional effects of having cancer.

Your treatment team may be made up of many different specialists, including your primary healthcare provider. Your primary care provider may coordinate treatments and communication among the other specialists on the team. He will also continue to provide your usual care and help you manage any other health problems you may have during your cancer treatment.

A medical oncologist is a doctor who has special training in the medical treatment of cancer. Your oncologist recommends cancer treatments that are best for your type and stage of cancer. Your oncologist also monitors your cancer treatments.

If you need radiation therapy, a radiation oncologist will determine how often you need radiation treatments, and will manage any side effects. Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy rays to shrink or destroy tumors.

If you need surgery, a surgeon will be part of your team. Surgeons are doctors who remove tissue for diagnosis and do surgery to remove cancerous tissue. They also may put in temporary or permanent access into a vein so that you can get chemotherapy medicines without being stuck with needles for each treatment.

Oncology nurses have special training in how to help people with cancer. They give medicine, watch for side effects, and can tell you how to deal with drug side effects and problems caused by the cancer. Nurses may care for you at the hospital, in outpatient clinics, or at home.

Other members of the cancer team may include a dietitian, physical therapist, pharmacist, and mental health therapists.

  • A dietitian can help you know what to eat to get the nutrition you need to keep a healthy weight and fight the cancer and treatment side effects.
  • A physical therapist can teach you exercises you can do to keep muscles strong, even if you are bedridden or in a wheelchair.
  • Pharmacists prepare the medicines used in your treatment.
  • Mental health professionals, such as social workers, psychologists, or psychiatrists, help you deal with the stress of the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. They can provide counseling for you and your family and help you find a support group.

Finally, remember that you are the most important member of this team. Do not be afraid to ask questions and get information you need. Let the other members of the team know when you need help and care.

If you feel that your team is not listening to you or you are not comfortable letting them know your needs, ask a family member or friend to speak for you. They can go with you to your appointments and help make sure your providers understand your needs and concerns. They can also take notes to help you remember what was said at the appointment.

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Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2013-09-30
Last reviewed: 2013-09-27
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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