What is oncology?


Quick Answer

Oncology is a field of study and medicine pertaining to cancer. Cancer diagnoses, treatment, follow-up, palliative care, screening and ethical questions related to cancer care fall under the oncology umbrella.

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Full Answer

Oncology comes from the Greek word for tumor. When used to define oncology, the word tumor usually denotes cancer, since oncology specifically deals with cancerous tumors. However, oncologists also address benign tumors as well.

Clinical oncology involves pooling vast medical knowledge and resources to address individual cases of malignant tumors. This feat demands a multidisciplinary team that frequently includes doctors and nurses. Any proposed treatment potentially requires participation from specialists who fall into three primary disciplines of oncology. These disciplines are medical, surgical and radiation.

Medical oncology is the use of medicine and chemotherapy to treat cancerous tumors. Surgery and radiation refer to the removal of malignant tumors and any subsequent therapeutic radiation the patient might undergo.

The field of oncology broadly concerns cancer research as well as the disciplines, treatment and care that clinical oncology typically entail. The Cancer Research Program of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is researching the relationship between genetic alterations and breast cancer, as well as how to improve current imaging techniques and treatment, as of March 2015.

Other research at Memorial Sloan Kettering found that certain combinations of drugs effectively controlled nausea in patients undergoing vomit-inducing chemotherapy. These findings are possibly valuable to a clinical oncologist who is part of a team that is delivering palliative care to patients receiving such a therapy.

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