Oncology Care

Cancer is a complex disease to diagnose and treat. 

To treat cancer, it is often necessary to consult with several medical and health professionals. 

The oncology team consists of the professionals involved in a patient’s cancer treatment. 

You may also refer to this group as your cancer care team, health care team, or multidisciplinary care team.


Doctors who specialize in cancer diagnosis and treatment are called oncologists. 

In the course of your cancer, your oncologist oversees your care from diagnosis to treatment. 

A patient with cancer is often treated by a team of oncologists who specialize in different areas of oncology and types of treatment. 

Medications are used by medical oncologists to treat cancer, radiation is used by radiation oncologists, and surgery is used by surgical oncologists.

A cancer care team may also include other specialists besides oncologists. 

Listed below are descriptions of the different providers that may be involved in your care. 

You may find this helpful as you learn each person’s role in your treatment. 

We encourage you to communicate regularly with your care team about your feelings and concerns.

Oncology Nurse

Nurses specializing in cancer care are known as oncology nurses. 

Depending on their experience, education, and specialized certifications, they play a variety of roles.

Oncology Nurse Practitioner/Oncology Physician Assistant

In addition to meeting with patients, these providers will collaborate with the oncology team, including a supervising oncologist.

Patient Navigator

From the diagnosis to the end of one’s life, this individual guides people. 

A patient navigator can assist you with finding counseling, financial assistance, and other support services. 

A patient navigator can be a nurse, social worker, or volunteer. 

They may also be known as patient educators.

Palliative Care Doctors And Nurses

Symptoms and side effects of cancer and its treatment are treated by the palliative care team in close collaboration with other oncology team members. 

Such care is also known as supportive care. 

When a patient is still experiencing pain and other symptoms despite being treated for them, a palliative care specialist is especially helpful.

Oncology Social Worker

Cancer patients, their families, and caregivers can benefit from the support of an oncology social worker. 

Leading support groups, providing counseling, and connecting people with financial support resources are some of their areas of expertise.

Genetic Counselors

Health professionals who specialize in cancer genetics can help you gain an understanding of your and your family’s cancer risk. 

You can use genetic information to plan your treatment for cancer.


Medical doctors who specialize in looking at cells, tissues, and organs to diagnose disease are called pathologists. 

The type of cancer you have is determined in part by your pathologist, whom you may or may not meet personally. 

A pathologist determines the results of your tests, provides the final cancer diagnosis, and works directly with your oncologist.

Oncology Clinical Pharmacist

Oncology pharmacists know how to use drugs safely and effectively to treat cancer. 

These pharmacists monitor your prescribed medications to spot, prevent, and manage any problems. 

Interactions between drugs, dosage adjustments, and drug administration are all possible.

Registered Dietitian/Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Nutritional experts educate patients about what they need to eat during and after treatment and how to eat well. 

Often, it includes suggestions for how to deal with side effects such as weight changes, appetite loss, mouth sores, and others. 

A dietitian provides medical nutrition therapy in hospitals and other health care facilities.

Diagnostic Radiologist

Radiologists use imaging tests to diagnose illnesses. 

Among the duties of a diagnostic radiologist are reviewing and interpreting imaging tests.

Rehabilitation Therapist

People with cancer can return to their highest level of functioning with the help of these professionals. 

During treatment, they can help patients regain speech, mobility, and everyday tasks.

Mental Health Professionals

Mental health professionals are professionals who have special training in order to provide counseling services. 

Some medical health professionals include psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists and licensed counselors.

Chaplain Or Spiritual Support Advisor

People with cancer and their families can receive spiritual support and rituals from a chaplain. 

The majority of hospitals have clergy on staff who work with people of all faiths and backgrounds, including those without religious faith. 

Many of these professionals also run support groups.


In immunotherapy, the immune system of the patient is used to fight cancer. 

By changing the way the immune system works, immunotherapy can help the body detect and attack cancer cells.  

Understanding how immunotherapy works and what to expect can often help you prepare for treatment and make informed decisions about your care.

To fight illness, your body uses a complex immune system. Organs, cells, and proteins all play a role. 

Many cancer cells are able to bypass the immune system’s natural defenses, allowing them to continue to grow.


Different immunotherapies work in different ways. 

In some cases, immunotherapy helps the immune system stop or slow the growth of cancer cells. 

Others stimulate the immune system to destroy cancer cells or prevent cancer from spreading. 

Cancer immunotherapy treatments are often used in conjunction with other treatments.

Many factors will determine the type of drug, dosage, and treatment schedule. 

A cancer’s type, size, location, and spread can be determined by these factors. 

Also important are your age, general health, weight, and how well you can cope with side effects. 

Talk to your healthcare provider about why they recommend a particular immunotherapy plan.

Your immune system produces antibodies when it detects something harmful. 

Proteins called antibodies are responsible for fighting infection by attaching to antigens, which are molecules that trigger the immune system.

Monoclonal Antibodies

The purpose of monoclonal antibodies is to either boost your body’s own natural antibodies or act as antibodies themselves. 

There are different methods by which monoclonal antibodies can fight cancer. 

They can, for example, stop the activity of abnormal proteins in cancer cells. 

It is also known as targeted therapy, or cancer treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the environment in which the tumor grows and survives.

Other types of monoclonal antibodies work by inhibiting or blocking immune checkpoints. 

In normal circumstances, the immune system’s response is stopped by an immune checkpoint to prevent it from attacking healthy cells. 

By activating these checkpoints, cancer cells can hide from the immune system. 

Checkpoint inhibitors prevent cancer cells from blocking the immune system, thus enhancing the immune system’s ability to fight cancer.

Depending on the purpose of the drug, monoclonal antibodies can have adverse effects. 

Monoclonal antibodies used in targeted therapy, for example, do not have the same side effects as those used in immunotherapy. 

Inhibitors of immune checkpoints can cause side effects similar to those associated with allergies.

Additionally, non-specific immunotherapies help your immune system destroy cancer cells. 

Most people receive this type of treatment after or alongside other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. 

Non-specific immunotherapies are sometimes the main cancer treatment.


Proteins called interferons are produced by the immune system to alert your body that there is a pathogen, typically a virus, in your body. 

Lab-produced interferons can be used to fight cancer. 

They may also slow down cancer cell growth. 

Interferon alpha is the most common type of interferon used in cancer treatment. 

Interferon treatment may cause flu-like symptoms, an increased risk of infection, skin rashes, and hair loss.


An interleukin is a protein that helps cells communicate and can be used to trigger an immune response. 

Lab-made interleukin-2 (IL-2) and aldesleukin (Proleukin) are used to treat skin cancer, including melanoma. 

Weight gain and low blood pressure are common side effects of IL-2 treatment. 

Patients may also suffer from flu-like symptoms.

Oncolytic Virus Therapy

Oncolytic virus therapy destroys cancer cells by using modified viruses. 

Genetically modified viruses are injected into the tumor to begin the process. 

The virus then replicates itself within the cancer cells. 

The cancer cells burst and die as a result. 

As cancer cells die, they release proteins that trigger your immune system to target any cancer cells in your body that have the same proteins as the dead cancer cells. 

Healthy cells do not become infected.

T-Cell Therapy

Immune cells that fight infection are called T cells. 

The doctor removes T cells from your blood during T-cell therapy. 

The cells are then given specific proteins called receptors in a laboratory. 

Through these receptors, T cells are able to recognize cancer cells. 

These T cells are then put back into your body. 

Those T cells hunt down cancer cells and destroy them. 

It is known as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy. 

Fever, confusion, low blood pressure, and, in rare cases, seizures can occur.

Certain blood cancers can be treated well with CAR T-cell therapy. 

Researchers are still studying this and other methods of changing T cells to treat cancer.

Hormone Therapy

A hormone replacement therapy is a medication that contains female hormones. 

When you go through menopause, your body stops making estrogen, so you take the medication to replace it. 

Hot flashes and vaginal discomfort are among the most common menopausal symptoms treated with hormone therapy.

In postmenopausal women, hormone therapy has also been shown to prevent bone loss and reduce fractures.

Bone Marrow Transplant

A bone marrow transplant involves infusing your body with healthy blood-forming stem cells to replace damaged or diseased bone marrow. 

A stem cell transplant is also known as a bone marrow transplant.

When your bone marrow stops working and does not produce enough healthy blood cells, you may need a bone marrow transplant.

Oncology Care Frequently Asked Questions

The study of cancer is called oncology. 

Oncologists are doctors who specialize in treating cancer. 

They are also called cancer specialists. 

Based on treatments, there are three major subfields of oncology: medical oncology, radiation oncology, and surgical oncology.

Patients with cancer are usually treated by a team of oncologists. 

An oncologist is a doctor who specializes in cancer treatment. 

Oncologists usually treat cancer patients because chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation are often part of cancer treatment.

Medical Oncology Units are inpatient oncology and stepdown units. 

They provide specialized nursing care to cancer patients. 

In this way, nurses can care for patients newly diagnosed with cancer, patients with an active cancer diagnosis, or patients with a history of cancer.

Immunotherapy drugs work better for some cancers than others and while they can be a miracle for some patients, they do not work for everyone. 

Approximately 15 to 20% of patients respond to immunotherapy drugs.