At Kymera Cancer Treatment Centers, we understand that a cancer diagnosis affects all aspects of your life, including family, home, and career. With three convenient locations in SENM, our patients gain the comfort and security of staying home, continuing to work, and being with their families during treatment.
Our board-certified Hematologists and Oncologists provide trusted, up-to-date cancer care utilizing evidence-based treatments, improving patient outcomes. Kymera accommodates patients quickly, facilitating second opinions and coordinating care with nationally recognized cancer facilities.
What is an Oncologist?
Oncology is a medical branch that specializes in tumors and cancer. An oncologist practices oncology. The word itself means, in the literal sense, “the study of tumors.” Hence, an oncologist treats cancer.
There are three significant areas in oncology: Medical, surgical, and radiation. Each area focuses on a differing aspect of cancer treatment.
- Medical oncologists treat cancer using chemotherapies or other medication regimens including immunotherapy and targeted therapy.
- Surgical oncologists use surgery to remove tumors and affected tissues; a surgical oncologist will also perform certain biopsies for diagnosis.
- Radiation oncologists are responsible for the use of radiation therapy in treating certain cancers.
Additional subcategories of oncologists include gynecologic, pediatric, and hematologist-oncologist. The latter diagnoses and treats cancers of the blood including leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.
What Does Medical Oncology Mean?
To say “medical oncology” is redundant. Oncology is a branch of medicine and as such, is medical. Medical oncology…oncology…same thing.
What Conditions/Diseases Does an Oncologist Treat?
Oncologists treat cancer, but many specialize in certain types of cancers. For instance, Kymera Oncologists are all Hematology-Oncologists and Medical Oncologists. They treat any cancer but are also specially trained to treat blood cancers.
Do Oncologists Only Treat Cancer?
Yes, though the Oncologist’s role includes:
- Explaining the diagnosis and stage.
- Helping patients understand treatment options.
- Helping them manage their cancer symptoms and any side effects of treatment.
The Oncologist will be part of a treatment team. Other standard members of the treatment team include a pathologist, diagnostic radiologist, an oncology nurse, possibly a social worker, and more, depending on the patient’s needs.
How Does an Oncologist Diagnose Cancer?
Oncologists use various tests and procedures to determine the type of cancer, the cancer stage, and treatment options. Some of the tests and procedures which may be used include:
- Barium enema
- Bone marrow aspiration & biopsy
- Breast MRI
- Complete Blood Count
- Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT)
- Tumor Marker Tests
- Upper Endoscopy
- Bone Scan
- EKG and Echocardiogram
- Fecal Occult Blood Tests
- Pap Test (Smear)
What is the Best Test to Detect Cancer?
There is no single “best” test for detecting cancer in a patient. That is something that researchers worldwide are striving for, but at present, the best tool is the oncologist.
During the interview with your doctor, he will ask many questions and examine you. The goal is first to determine what is causing whatever problem which brought you there and isolate the general location if not entirely known. Testing will play a role in this.
If a mass is located and believed to be the cause of the symptoms, it will have to be learned whether it is cancerous or benign. If cancerous, additional testing may be needed to know the size, how advanced, and the precise location of the cancer.
Thus, no one test is best – the symptoms determine the tests chosen.
What are Early Warning Signs of Cancer?
There are several early warning signs or symptoms of cancer regardless of the type and location. However, certain cancers will likely manifest additional symptoms. The most common symptoms include:
- Sores that will not heal
- Unusual discharges or bleeding
- Nagging cough
- Difficulty swallowing or chronic indigestion
- Thick lumps (may be large or small, but will always seem dense to the touch)
- Changes in bladder or bowel
Although these symptoms may not be a sign of cancer, there is still cause for concern if many are present. Note too that pain is not on this list. The pain associated with cancer is generally not an early symptom.
Can Cancer be Cured Completely?
One generation ago, speaking of a cure for cancer seemed like science fiction. Today, many believe a cure is right around the corner. For instance, in January 2019, a team of researchers in Israel declared they will have a cure for cancer by the end of the year. True or not, it demonstrates the new truth of cancer – that it is not the automatic death warrant it was just a decade ago.
At the same time, nearly everyone knows someone who seems to have beaten cancer. Doctors told them they were in remission…ten years ago. Even some life insurance companies will now underwrite someone who has been cancer-free for five years.
So…Can cancer be cured completely?
Although some physicians are leaning towards saying “cure,” most prefer the term “in remission.” This is because there is no way to know if cancer will return and statistically if a person has had cancer once, the odds of recurrence are very high.
That said, there ARE certain cancers which are more prone to long-term remission, which is about as close to a “cure” as possible. These include:
- Prostate Cancer – About 99% are still living five years after diagnosis
- Thyroid Cancer – About 98% still living in five years
- Testicular Cancer – About 95% still living in five years (73% for late stage)
- Melanoma (Skin) Cancer – 91% survival beyond five years
- Breast Cancer – If caught in the early stage, 99% survive beyond five years
Of course, you should note that these are not guarantees, and much depends on the stage and spread of the cancer. Suppose the cancer has spread to nodes or other parts of the body. In that case, it is advanced, and the possibility of it entering remission is much lower.
Still, there is cause to be hopeful for new treatments and early detection tests are being diligently researched globally.
What is the Difference Between an Oncologist and a Hematologist?
An Oncologist treats cancer, whereas a Hematologist treats diseases of the blood. Such blood-related disorders and diseases may not be cancer; they could be hemophilia, sickle-cell anemia, or something else.
However, Hematologists also treat lymphoma and leukemia…cancers that are present in the bloodstream. To learn more about the role of Kymera Hematologists, click here.