The oncology refers to the scientific and medical discipline that deals with tumor diseases, i.e. cancer. This involves both basic research and the clinical sub-areas of prevention, early detection, diagnostics, therapy and aftercare of cancer.
Oncology refers to the scientific and medical specialty that deals with tumor diseases, i.e. cancer.
The oncology is the field with which one instinctively as a patient would like to have least to do with: the oncologist deals with cancer of all kinds and their various therapies.
Oncology, on the other hand, is not that unpopular among doctors: nowadays, cancer can be fought well in many cases and often cured permanently.
At the same time, research is still making great strides and has great potential for the future. That makes oncology a pretty interesting subject. Below is a little insight into how medicine works.
Clinically, it is oncology a branch of internal medicine, oncologists are therefore always internists as well.
However, the need to coordinate with other specialist areas is inherent in the nature of the matter: as many options as cancer therapy offer, so many medical specialties are also working on it. This affects the surgeon on the one hand when it comes to the operation of a tumor, and on the other hand the radiation therapist and physicist when radiation is planned.
In the case of special tumor diseases such as breast cancer, on the other hand, it is the gynecologist from whom all branches of treatment originate; in the case of prostate cancer, it may be the urologist. The therapy of cancer is therefore strongly networked - with most "internal" cancers, if you will, the oncologist "holds the reins".
In larger clinics that treat cancer completely, all of these specialties work closely together and discuss individual patient cases at so-called "tumor boards", ie weekly conferences at which a doctor from each specialization presents the new and current patients in his ward to all colleagues.
Each specialist can then make a therapy proposal from their own perspective: Then, for example, the surgeon says: "The way the CT image looks, we cannot get close to the tumor." and the radiation therapist says: "We can try to shrink the tumor first with radiation, that has very good prospects with these tumors." - At the end a concept is decided which the individual disciplines then implement.
The oncology department can then refer the patient to radiation therapy and then get him back for success control, conduct chemotherapy itself and ultimately also accompany the patient in follow-up care in order to be able to identify cancer cells that are growing again in good time.
With the exception of the breast and prostate tumors already mentioned, which are treated by other specialties, the area of responsibility of oncology includes all malignant cancers such as colon cancer, stomach cancer, liver tumors, lung cancer, kidney cancer, soft tissue tumors and many more.
The means of oncology can be easily divided into different levels for the sake of clarity.
At the prevention level, the main focus is on research and the identification of risk factors, i.e. factors that make the occurrence of cancer more likely - the best-known example is smoking and lung cancer. With the help of smoker weaning programs and health education, the "medical intervention" then takes place at this stage. Early detection, for example with the help of cervical smears (cervical carcinoma), mammography (breast cancer) or colonoscopy (colon carcinoma), is also part of the prevention area.
At the diagnostic level, the oncologist has the full range of modern device medicine at his disposal in the event of a specific suspicion of cancer: depending on the suspected tumor, in addition to the external examination, it is usually a conspicuous finding in the imaging (x-ray, ultrasound, CT, MRI) ), which corroborates the suspicion.
With the help of colonoscopy, gastroscopy, lungoscopy or CT-guided biopsies, an attempt is always made to get a tissue sample in order to be able to make more detailed statements about the biological appearance and behavior of the tumor (benign / malignant, etc.) and thus to "secure the diagnosis ". In the case of malignant tumors, further imaging is then carried out to search for metastases (X-ray, CT, MRI, skeletal scintigraphy, etc.).
At the therapy level, there is then an interplay of the disciplines, basically surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are available. Above all, the administration of cytostatics, i.e. chemotherapy, is the sovereignty of oncology. In addition to the established "poisons", which are directed blindly against all dividing cells and thus cause side effects such as intestinal bleeding, anemia and hair loss, there are now some very special drugs that specifically intervene in the cell metabolism of certain (less) cancer cells and so right elegant way to achieve very good results. This is one of the hottest research areas in medicine, one in which many achievements are sure to be expected in the near future.
Finally, there is the level of follow-up care: After surviving cancer, all patients should visit their oncologist regularly in order to be able to identify and treat any recurring cancer at an early stage with the help of external examinations, blood tests for so-called "tumor markers" and, in some cases, diagnostic equipment.