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What Does an Oncologist Do?

what does an oncologist do

We have different types of people in the medical field. Aside from dermatologists, cardiologists, immunologists, and the like, we also have ÔÇťoncologists”, which are doctors that are specialized in the field of cancer.

So basically, an oncologist is a doctor that treats or provides medical care for people that have cancer.

Different Types of Oncologists

There are three major fields in oncology which are the medical, surgical, and radiation fields. Each of them has different roles and methods of cancer treatment. So what does each of these oncologists do?

Medical oncologist

It is an oncologist that treats cancer that relies on therapy such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or targeted therapy.

A medical oncologist is touted as the main health care provider for people with cancer. He/she is the one who will be referred much often to individuals who are diagnosed with cancer.

Surgical oncologist

A surgical oncologist, on the other hand, is an oncology doctor/surgeon that specializes in surgical treatment.

They are the ones who treat cancer caused by tumors or any cancerous tissue in the body. When a person needs surgical treatment for cancer removal, he/she will be referred to a surgical oncologist instead of a medical oncologist. 

Radiation oncologist

A radiation oncologist, as from the name itself, is an oncologist that uses radiation technology for cancer treatment.

Such radiation tech includes radioactive implantations, hyperthermia, or external beam radiotherapy. In addition, radiation oncologists also partner with medical and surgical oncologists to perform combined treatments of radiotherapy paired with surgery or chemotherapy.

Other Types of Oncologists

Aside from the three major ones, here are other types of oncologists that are specialized in different fields as well.


An oncologist that treats cancer in the blood such as leukemia, myeloma, and lymphoma.

Gynecologic oncologist

Gynecologic oncologists are mainly focused on women. They are specialized in treating gynecologic cancers like cervical, ovarian, uterine cancers, or any other cancer types that are present in the vagina.

Pediatric Oncologist

An oncologist that treats cancer in children. As surprising as it sounds, cancers can also occur in children and teens. Such cancer includes brain tumors, osteosarcoma, and leukemia.

It’s a Long Journey To Become An Oncologist

Being an oncologist is not as simple as graduating and being deployed in the hospital real quick. After graduating from a 4-year premedical course in college, it is then followed by another 4 years in medical school in order to get an MD or DO to be followed by a postgraduate training.

And it doesn’t stop there, another 3 years (which can go up to 7 years depending on the school) of internal medicine study is also required.

In addition, oncologists must also pass a licensing exam to legally work in the state they live in. The road to becoming an oncologist is definitely a tough one.

No wonder why people in the medical field such as oncologists have sky-high salaries to pay off all the expenses they spent for years of studying and training.