Types of Oncologists: Your Medical Specialists Explained - Oncopower

Types of Oncologists: Your Medical Specialists Explained


Cancer is a devastating disease. And unfortunately, it’s still a big issue. Out of 100,000 men and women, around 442 of them will get cancer every year. If you’re diagnosed with cancer, you’ll have to see an oncologist for your treatment.

What is an oncologist? An oncologist is a doctor that specializes in cancer treatment. Finding the right oncologist can be tricky, simply because there are so many types of oncologists. The oncologist you see will depend on the type of cancer you have as well as your treatment.

Which type of oncologist is right for you? Here, we will cover the different types of oncologists and how they can help with your condition.

The Role of the Oncologist

Before covering the different types of oncologists, let’s look more at this type of doctor and how they assist cancer patients.

An oncologist diagnoses and treats different types of cancer. They will also manage a patient’s care throughout the course of the disease, which also includes reducing any side effects they experience from the disease and treatment.

A proper diagnosis follows specific steps:

  • Identifying the type of cancer and stage
  • Exploring treatment options
  • Managing side effects and symptoms

Cancer is a debilitating and scary disease. That’s why your oncologist will be more than your doctor — they can serve as a support system. An oncologist is a unique doctor because they have special training in delivering high-quality care while showing compassion.

A typical oncologist has a specialty team that consists of:

  • Pathologist
  • Oncology social worker
  • Oncology nurse
  • Doctors in other areas of medicine
  • And more

All of these professionals are devoted to delivering the best care.

Types of Oncologists

Now that we have a better understanding of the oncologist, let’s look at the different types of oncologists. Keep in mind, this isn’t a complete list.

Surgical Oncologist

If you’ll need surgery, you’ll visit a surgical oncologist. They specialize in removing cancerous tumors as well as nearby tissue.

There are also surgical oncologists who specialize in certain operations for specific types of cancer. For example, otolaryngologists treat cancers of the head and neck while urologists perform surgeries for those with prostate cancer.

A surgical oncologist can also diagnose cancer, performing a biopsy. However, they may only be able to diagnose certain types of cancer.

After receiving their doctor of medicine (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO), surgical oncologists will spend the next several years in a surgical residency program. Many graduates pursue general surgical oncology before choosing a specialty.

Medical Oncologist

If chemotherapy falls into your treatment plan, you’ll need to see a medical oncologist. They may also give other treatments, such as immunotherapy and targeted therapy. Medical oncologists also prescribe medications that will alleviate any side effects and symptoms you’re experiencing.

Even if you’re not undergoing chemotherapy or another medical procedure, many use a medical oncologist as their primary specialist. They can coordinate care with other doctors and monitor your treatment.

After receiving their MD or DO, a medical oncologist completes an internal medicine or pediatrics residency that lasts approximately three years. From here, they join an oncology fellowship that lasts another three years.

Radiation Oncologist

This oncologist treats cancer specifically with radiation therapy. They may the area that needs to be treated, calculating the dose as well as the number of needles needed.

You may need radiation therapy for a couple of reasons. If you need surgery, radiation will eradicate any cancer cells you may have. If you received palliative care, radiation can be used to ease any pain you have. Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) is also used to treat specific tumors and other cancers in stages of metastasis.

After receiving their MD or DO, a radiation oncologist spends five-to-six years in a radiation oncology residency program.

Pediatric Oncologist

Unfortunately, cancer can also occur in children and teenagers. This specialist treats cancer in children. Some cancers they can treat include leukemia, brain tumors, Ewing’s sarcoma, and osteosarcoma.

Even though a pediatric oncologist is specialized to work with children, they can also work with adults. Some cancers occur more commonly in children than adults. If an adult is diagnosed with these specific cancers, they can opt to visit a pediatric oncologist for treatment.

Gynecologic Oncologist

These oncologists specialize in gynecologic cancers (cancer of the woman’s reproductive organs). These include ovarian, uterine, and cervical cancers.

After receiving their MD or DO, a gynecologic oncologist undergoes obstetrics and gynecology residency. From here, they pursue their training through a gynecologic oncology fellowship. Here, they receive training on chemotherapeutic, surgical, and radiation techniques.

Hematologist Oncologist

This oncologist specializes in blood cancers. They can diagnose and treat them. Common examples of blood cancers include lymphoma, leukemia, and myeloma. They have extra training in the human blood system as well as the bone marrow and lymphatic systems.

The Oncologist You’ll See by Cancer Type

The oncologist you see depends on the type of cancer you have. Fortunately, you can see a medical oncologist for many types of cancer, such as bladder cancer and breast cancer.

Depending on the treatment, your radiation oncologist will be your main oncologist. This may be the case if you have a type of cancer such as brain cancer; radiation will stop or slow the growth of brain tumors.

You may also have to see specialized surgeons for many of your treatments. For example, if you have colorectal cancer and need surgery, you’ll see a colorectal surgeon. If you need surgery for liver cancer, you’ll see a hepatobiliary surgeon.

How Do You Find the Best Types of Oncologists?

Now that you know the different types of oncologists, you may be wondering how to find the best one. Don’t worry, we make this process easy. We provide access to oncologists for free 24/7. Register today!

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