What is an oncologist?

Oncologists are cancer doctors. They're medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. When you have cancer, your oncologist often becomes the head of your care team and coordinates the efforts of surgeons, dietitians, nurses, therapists, and other health care professionals involved in your medical care.

Oncologists get special training in the typical treatments used for cancer, such as radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, and chemotherapy, as well as newer treatments such as targeted therapy and biological therapy.

There are three main types of oncologists, each focusing on a different type of treatment: medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and surgical oncologists. Which type becomes your primary oncologist may depend on the nature of your cancer, though other oncologists may also be involved in your treatment. There are also sub-specialties within the field of oncology, including pediatric oncologists and oncologists who specialize in specific types of cancer, such as breast or prostate cancer.