What Is the Meaning of Oncologist?


According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, an oncologist typically specializes either in a particular method of treating cancer or in treatment of a specific population. The specialties in treatment methods are medical oncology, surgical oncology and radiation oncology. Cancer populations doctors specialize in include children (pediatric oncologists) and women with gynecological cancers (gynecologic oncologists).

Specializing in Treatment Methods

A medical oncologist, as described by the National Cancer Institute, specializes in treating cancer with chemotherapy, biological therapy, hormonal therapy and targeted therapy. Typically, a medical oncologist is the primary health care provider for a person with cancer, and coordinates treatment by other specialists.

Surgical oncologists specialize in all aspects of cancer that require surgery. They take biopsies for microscopic examination and perform surgery to remove cancer.

A radiation oncologist specializes in using radiation therapy to treat cancer.

Specializing in a Population

Pediatric oncologists specialize in treating children who have cancer. They utilize medical, surgical and radiation oncology procedures in their treatment of young people.

A gynecologic oncologist specializes in treating women who have cancer of the reproductive system, such as cervical cancer or breast cancer.

Role of the Oncologist

The primary role of an oncologist is to manage the care and treatment of patients diagnosed with cancer. The oncologist explains the diagnosis and stages of the cancer, discusses all treatment options and recommends the most appropriate course of treatment. The oncologist provides specialized care and works to maintain the patient's quality of life by managing pain and other ailments associated with the cancer, such as nausea, vomiting, constipation and fatigue.


Diagnosis and treatment of cancer is complex. Because of this, a patient's cancer treatment often involves a team of medical, surgical and radiation oncologists working closely together to provide the best possible care. The word "oncologist" is based on the word "oncology," which the National Cancer Institute defines as "the study of cancer." An oncologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the study, diagnosis and treatment of people with cancer. When a person is diagnosed with cancer, an oncologist usually takes charge of treatment and cares for the patient through all phases of the disease.