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How is "oncology" defined?

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Quick Answer

Oncology is the medical field that focuses on cancer, according to MedicineNet. Medical oncology is devoted to medical treatments, such as chemotherapy, for cancer, while surgical oncology focuses on biopsies, tumor resections and other surgical approaches, and radiation oncology focuses on therapeutic radiation.

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Full Answer

Oncologists are cancer specialists, and they diagnose cancer as well as determine its stage and aggressiveness, according to News Medical. The history of the patient is the most critical diagnostic aid. Fatigue, anemia without explanation, and weight loss are some common signs of cancer. Biopsies and examining tumor tissue under microscopes are two ways to diagnose cancer. Doctors also use endoscopies, X-rays and ultrasounds in some cases.

The therapy approach depends on the stage and grade of the cancer, says News Medical. Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are three typical approaches. Oncologists frequently work with other medical professionals, such as surgeons and radiotherapists, but coordinate the care of a patient.

Research in oncology includes cell biology, treatment methods in chemotherapy, pain relief and palliative care, states News Medical. Clinical trials are common. Research also entails population screenings and screenings of relatives of cancer patients to see about any genetic connections. Many types of cancer exist, and cancer occurs when cells begin to grow uncontrollably.

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