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An oncologist is a physician who specializes in the study, diagnosis, and treatment of cancerous tumors. Because cancer can affect any organ in the body, and individuals of any age, there are many different kinds of oncologists. For example, medical oncologists have studied internal medicine and treat cancer through chemotherapy. Pediatric oncologists are pediatricians who specialize in cancers that affect infants and children. Gynecological oncologists specialize in cancers that attack the female reproductive organs, including the ovary, cervix, and uterus. Radiation oncologists treat tumors through radiation therapy. Surgical oncologists are surgeons who specialize in removing cancerous tissue to prevent its growth. There are many other subspecialties within the practice of oncology. In fact, there are almost as many different subspecialties of oncology as there are different kinds of doctors.
A clinical oncologist conducts clinical trials in order to identify the most successful strategies for fighting cancer. Clinical trials are studies that are conducted on consenting patients. By comparing the results of two different treatments on two groups of patients with similar symptoms, clinical oncologists are able to determine which methods are more effective in eliminating or retarding the development of cancer.
Because cancer can spread throughout the organs of the body, oncologists often work together in teams to identify the appropriate strategy for helping a patient. Because many patients undergo a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery to treat cancer, it is extremely important for the physicians to coordinate the treatment process.