Medical oncologists and radiation oncologists work side by side to treat patients diagnosed with cancer and help them maintain the best quality of life possible throughout the treatment process.
The difference between radiation oncologists and medical oncologists can be boiled down to treatment of specific areas versus treatment of the entire body. Radiation oncologists focus on destroying cancerous cells in specific target areas on the body, mostly using radiation therapy. Medical oncologists, on the other hand, work at treating the entire body using whatever medicines are best deemed for that type of cancer depending on the stage it’s at.
As a medical oncologist, I start my work right away when it is discovered that a patient has cancer. Typically, I meet with a radiation oncologist and a surgeon and together we figure out which treatment plan will best attack the cancer. We also talk to the patient about his or her type of cancer, the different options that are available to fight it and how effective those methods are.
From that point on, my job is to discuss with the patient what medicines – such as oral medications, injections or chemotherapy – will best work based on his or her current medical condition. The main focus in doing this is to provide as much information and guidance as necessary so that the patient is making a knowledgeable decision.
We also want to help the patient manage pain and side effects and try to keep a level of comfort in their lives while going through his or her cancer treatment. We journey alongside the patient, providing them with efficient tools, support and cutting-edge treatment options so they don’t have to battle the disease alone.