Every cancer patient will spend a great deal of time with their Medical Oncologist. This cancer specialist follows patients from diagnosis through their treatment and coordinates with other specialists who are also treating the patient. One of the McLeod Medical Oncologists, Dr. Karim Tazi, offers a detailed look at this important role and the use of cancer treatments.
A medical oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating cancer using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted therapy, biologics and, more recently, immunotherapy. He often works alongside surgeons, radiation oncologists and other members of a multidisciplinary team.
This physician is often the primary doctor for patients with cancer. He explains the diagnosis, the stages of cancer, discusses relevant treatment options and coordinates and implements the treatment plan. He also treats cancer and treatment side effect symptoms if they arise.
One concern many patients newly diagnosed with cancer have is the side effects of cancer treatment. Anti-cancer treatments are designed to work against cancer. However, they can affect normal cells in the body or have side effects that we, as oncologists, are prepared to diagnose and treat. We can also alter the treatment plan in order to limit or avoid side effects.
The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the type and length of treatment. I always discuss extensively the potential side effects and risks of cancer treatments with my patients. I also provide references for reading and give my patients ample opportunity to ask questions.
Common side effects of chemotherapy include hair loss, nausea and a high risk of infection and bleeding. However, these side effects are usually manageable and go away when treatment is completed. In addition, cancer treatments can offer a patient with incurable cancer a significantly better quality of life than those who do not receive these therapies.
With appropriate modern, supportive care, chemotherapy treatment has become very tolerable for the majority of patients with cancer.
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