Your doctor is part of a team referred to as a "multidisciplinary team" – it brings together a range of health professionals who contribute differing skills to the planning of your treatment and provision of ongoing care. This ensures that all relevant aspects of your needs will be considered.
As different types of cancer behave very differently, doctors usually specialise in particular types of cancer or areas of cancer treatment. Doctors who specialise in cancer are called oncologists. Oncologists are broadly trained in all aspects of oncology, specialising in one of three main areas:
- Surgical oncology – cancer surgery
- Radiation oncology – radiation therapy
- Medical oncology – chemotherapy/hormone therapy/immunotherapy/targeted therapy
A multidisciplinary team also includes:
- Allied health professionals: An allied health professional (AHP) is a trained professional who works with others in the multidisciplinary team to support cancer patients.
- Oncology nurses: work with you to identify and assess your supportive care needs, monitor your condition, administer medication, and develop care plans. Nurses also act as patient educators and collaborate closely with other members of the team to ensure the highest quality of care to patients.
- Other specialists: such as pathologists (undertakes laboratory tests on tissue and body fluids to help diagnose diseases), imaging specialists (use medical imaging technologies such as CT scanning to diagnose and treat disease), pharmacists, and palliative care specialists.
Some types of cancer are usually treated by haematologists. Haematologists specialise in diseases affecting the blood or blood forming organs (for example bone marrow). Cancers of the blood (leukaemia) and lymphoid glands (lymphoma and myeloma) are usually treated by a haematologist.
Some types of cancer are usually treated by gynae-oncologists. Gynae-oncologists specialise in cancers affecting the female reproductive system. Endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer are usually treated by a gynae-oncologist.