From WikiMD's Health & Wellness Encyclopedia

Oncology is a specialized field within medicine focusing on the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of tumors and cancers. At its core, oncology seeks to understand the aberrant cellular activities that result in cancer, a group of related diseases characterized by uncontrolled cellular division and the invasion of neighboring tissues.

What is Cancer?

Cancer is essentially a condition where the body’s cells start dividing incessantly without any halt, subsequently invading and damaging the surrounding tissues. Different cancers are named based on their origin, i.e., the location in the body where they start. For instance, lung cancers begin in the lungs, and breast cancers originate in the breasts.

Common Types of Cancer

Cancer can manifest in any part of the body. Some of the most prevalent cancers in the United States include:

Professionals in Oncology

Oncologists are the physicians who have specialized training and experience in diagnosing, treating, and preventing cancer. Depending on their specific focus within oncology, they can be:

  • Medical oncologists: Primarily use chemotherapy for treatment.
  • Surgical oncologists: Focus on surgical interventions for cancer.
  • Radiation oncologists: Specialists in using radiation as a therapeutic measure against cancer.

Medical Oncology

Medical oncologists primarily deal with the non-surgical aspects of cancer care, encompassing diagnosis, staging, and treatment.

Conditions Treated

  • Medical oncologists are seasoned physicians, specializing in the comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of cancer, employing tools like chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy, and targeted therapy.
  • Often, a medical oncologist takes on the role of the primary healthcare provider for cancer patients, ensuring a multidimensional care strategy.
  • Their role also extends to offering supportive care and orchestrating treatments recommended by other healthcare professionals.


Medical oncologists are adept at a range of procedures, including:

Surgical Oncology

Surgical oncologists are skilled surgeons with a specific focus on surgical procedures designed to diagnose, stage, and treat cancer. Their expertise can be pivotal in removing tumors and affected tissues, and sometimes, in performing biopsies to diagnose cancer.

Additional Resources and References


Latest articles - Oncology

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Latest articles - Oncology

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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD, Spt