What Is An Oncologist?
Oncology is the study of tumors and oncologists are physicians who specialize in the treatment of cancerous tumors and related issues. To become an oncologist, a student spends four years in college, another four years in medical school, and then another four to six years in residencies or fellowships before taking their boards, which are oral and written examination that will prove competency and license the physician as an oncologist. Oncologists often specialize their skills to include mainly:
Medical oncologists – specialists in chemotherapy and other pharmaceuticals. Medical oncologists are generally the primary physician for a patient who will most likely have a multidisciplinary team attending them when it comes to cancer treatment;
Surgical oncologists – specialists in hands-on tumor removal or treatment via surgery; and
Radiation oncologists – specialists in the use of radiation to eradicate cancer cells.
Further specialization includes:
Gynecologic oncologists – specializing in cancers of the female reproductive system;
Pediatric oncologists – specializing in treating cancers endured by children;
Ocular oncologists – specializing in cancers of the eye;
Urologic oncologists – specializing in cancers of the urinary tract; and
Veterinary oncologists – specializing in cancers in animals.
In addition to specializing as stated above, oncologists often further specialize regarding the type of cancer(s) they treat, such as leukemia or melanoma.
Oncologists screen, diagnose, and treat cancer patients. Diagnosis is made via blood tests that look for tumor markers, biopsy, x-rays, ultrasound, and CT, PET, and MRI scanning, and endoscopy, for use in the digestive system, nasal passages, and the bronchi. Treatment s may include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy, or surgery, alone or in various combinations. Oncologists may also provide or even specialize in, palliative care, which treats the symptoms caused either by the cancer itself, or by the treatment modality.
Being an oncologist can be an especially rewarding career as very often, cancer can be eliminated and the patient can be saved – an extraordinary example of job satisfaction. Additionally, patients are often given hope by their oncologist and the relationships developed between cancer patients and their oncologists can be very rewarding for both. Oncologists participate in the advancements of cancer treatment and are most capable of providing the best contemporary care to persons with afflicted with cancer. The American Cancer Society predicted 1,638,910 new cases of cancer for the year 2012.
According to Payscale, oncologists generally earn between $132, 615 and $258,734, depending on factors such as experience, location, and employer. Also, according to Payscale, the annual salary for oncologists is highest in Omaha Nebraska; with salaries there ranging from $112,000 to $325,000. However, the cost of tuition and related expenses to become an oncologist can reach the ballpark of $200,000 and more, with malpractice insurance costing anywhere from $10,000 per year to over $200,000 per year, depending on the specialty chosen and the state in which the physician practices. An OB/GYN will likely pay more than a general surgeon in any state, but rates are particularly high in Florida.
Oncologists, like other physicians and particularly specialists, often supplement their generous income by writing textbooks and teaching.
The top schools from which to choose to study oncology include Stanford University at Stanford, California, Duke University at Durham, North Carolina, Washington University at St. Louis, Missouri,
Johns Hopkins University at Baltimore, Maryland, Ohio State University at Columbus, Ohio, Thomas Jefferson University at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the University of Chicago at Chicago, Illinois, the University of Maryland at Baltimore, Maryland, the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Wisconsin.
For the student interested in a medical career as a physician, oncology will offer a great deal of job security as the fight against cancer has unfortunately not yet been won. Additionally, the salary for the oncologist can be significantly higher than that of other medical specialists, while the work being done can be very rewarding, at least in those cases where remission and cure are achieved.
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