Oncology


General or Other | Oncology (Medicine Field)


Description

Oncology is the branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis of cancer and therapies including surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other modalities.

Specialization

Clinical oncology consists of three primary disciplines: medical oncology (the treatment of cancer with medicine, including chemotherapy), surgical oncology (the surgical aspects of cancer including biopsy, staging, and surgical resection of tumours), and radiation oncology (the treatment of cancer with therapeutic radiation). After successful treatment an oncologist will follow up and offer palliative care of patients with terminal malignancies. Oncology is also concerned with the ethical questions surrounding cancer care and with screening efforts of populations, or of the relatives of patients (in types of cancer that are thought to have a hereditary basis, such as breast cancer).

Diagnosis, Treatment and Benefits

Cancer is generally thought to result from one or more permanent genetic changes in a cell. In some cells a single mutational event can lead to neoplastic transformation, but for most tumours it appears that carcinogenesis is a multistep process. Although some rare congenital conditions lead to cancer in infancy, the vast majority of human cancers arise as a result of the complex interplay between genetic and environmental factors.

Diagnostic methods include: biopsy; endoscopy; X-rays, CT scanning, MRI scanning, PET scan, ultrasound and other radiological techniques; Scintigraphy and other methods of nuclear medicine; blood tests, including tumour markers, which can increase the suspicion of certain types of tumours or even be path gnomonic of a particular disease.

The most important diagnostic tool remains the medical history: the character of the complaints and any specific symptoms (fatigue, weight loss, unexplained anaemia, and fever of unknown origin, paraneoplastic phenomena and other signs). Often a physical examination will reveal the location of a malignancy. ...