An oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating and treating diseases caused by cancer. This disease has a high mortality rate. according to World Health Organization (WHO), in 2015 alone as many as 8.8 million people died from cancer. Cancer is common in developing countries, including Indonesia. So it is natural that this deadly disease gets special attention in the medical world.
Many factors trigger a person suffering from cancer, for example an unhealthy lifestyle, environmental factors, to heredity (genetic). In Indonesia alone, the number of cancer patients continues to increase every year.
Oncology Field of Work
Oncology is a field of medicine that specializes in the treatment and prevention of cancer. Meanwhile, doctors who specialize in oncology are called oncologists. Clinically, the field of oncology can be divided into three main areas, namely:
- Surgical oncologyThe field of surgical oncology focuses on treating cancer by surgical means, such as removal of tumor tissue and biopsies.
- Oncology–hematologyThe field of oncology–hematology focuses on the treatment of blood cancers, such as lymphoma, myeloma, and leukemia.
- Radiation oncologyThe field of radiation oncology focuses on treating cancer using radiation therapy or radiotherapy.
In addition to providing treatment, cancer specialists are also responsible for providing medical treatment recommendations tailored to the patient's needs, evaluating the results of treatment, and treating the patient's condition after treatment. If a cancer patient requires special treatment, the oncologist will work with several doctors from other fields to assist in the treatment process.
Diseases Treated by Oncologists
Oncologists specialize in the treatment and care of cancer. Various cancers are commonly treated by oncologists, including:
- Breast cancerBreast cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in many women. Usually women who suffer from breast cancer have typical symptoms, in the form of a lump in the breast, pain in the nipple, the nipple is pulled in, discharge from the breast, and changes in skin color in the breast.
- Lung cancerLung cancer is often suffered by active and passive smokers. Generally, lung cancer sufferers have symptoms in the form of a cough that does not go away, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, voice turns hoarse, and pain in the chest.
- Colorectal cancerColorectal cancer is a type of cancer that grows in the large intestine. Most cases of this type of cancer begin as lumps (polyps) in the colon which eventually turn into cancer. Symptoms that are often experienced by people with this cancer include diarrhea, constipation, blood in the stool, frequent feeling of nausea and bloating, to weight loss for no apparent reason.
- Ovarian cancerOvarian cancer is also one of the most common types of cancer in women. Women who have ovarian cancer sometimes have no specific symptoms. However, this condition can be suspected from the presence of symptoms such as abdominal swelling, the stomach often feels bloated, and pain during sexual intercourse.
- LeukemiaLeukemia is a type of cancer that attacks the production and function of white blood cells. A person with this type of cancer has symptoms of fatigue, sweats a lot at night, frequent bleeding or bruising for no apparent reason, joint pain, and swelling of the lymph nodes.
- MelanomaMelanoma is a very dangerous type of skin cancer, but it is rare. Symptoms of this cancer are often marked by the appearance of a new mole or a change in the shape of an old mole.
You can consult various types of cancer to a cancer specialist about the latest treatments and measures to treat cancer or control its symptoms.
Medical Actions an Oncologist Can Perform
In general, some malignant or cancerous tumors do not have typical symptoms, and even the symptoms that appear are very similar to other health disorders. So it is important for an oncologist to know the complete medical history of the patient. To help confirm this, the oncologist will perform a physical examination and examination of supporting samples, such as CT scan, ultrasound, MRI, PET scan, X-rays, blood tests, endoscopy, and biopsies.
After being positively diagnosed with cancer, the oncologist will provide medical treatment according to the patient's needs. Medical actions that an oncologist can perform include:
- ChemotherapyChemotherapy is done by injecting various drugs into the body to destroy cancer cells and prevent cancer cells from growing again.
- RadiotherapyRadiotherapy is a treatment method using high-frequency radiation beams to kill cancer cells.
- Bone marrow transplantThis medical procedure is performed to renew the bone marrow damaged by the growth of cancer cells. This procedure is widely used in the treatment of blood cancers such as lymphoma, myeloma, and leukemia.
- OperationSurgery is a medical procedure that is often used to treat various types of cancer. This procedure is done by removing cancerous tissue in certain body parts.
When to See an Oncologist?
Usually, an oncology examination is based on a referral from a general practitioner or other specialist who treats you, if the doctor finds clinical signs and symptoms that refer to cancer. You are advised to immediately consult an oncologist if there are symptoms that can lead to cancer, such as:
- Cough that does not go away and is mixed with blood.
- Changes in the frequency of bowel movements and urination.
- There is blood in the stool (feces).
- Anemia for no apparent reason.
- A lump in the breast, testicle, or elsewhere.
- Changes in the shape of the mole.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Weight loss for no apparent reason.
- Pain around the back and pelvis.
The sooner cancer is diagnosed and treated, or if it is found at an early stage, the treatment success rate will generally be higher.
What to Prepare for?
Before meeting with an oncologist, prepare the following things to make it easier for a cancer specialist to determine the right treatment for your cancer, such as:
- A detailed history of complaints and symptoms. If there are lumps in certain body parts, note and detail the size and location of the lump on the body.
- Bring the results of previous examinations, such as blood tests, X-rays, CT scans, or biopsies if any.
- If you have been diagnosed with cancer before, tell us the severity of your cancer.
- Bring a family member with you to the oncologist.
- Ask about the available treatment options and the success and risk rates of each.
In addition to the things above, also pay attention to the oncology specialist you choose. Ask for recommendations from several cancer specialists from the doctor who examined you. Although general practitioners also study oncology, general practitioners are not competent in providing treatment for cancer patients. Especially for cancer, the treatment is the responsibility of a cancer specialist or oncologist.