There may be many players on your cancer team helping to bring you the best of care. Here are some descriptions to help you understand the role they may play in your journey.
Family Practitioner—For initial diagnosis and future follow-ups as well as any medical issues that may arise separate from cancer treatments. It includes nurse practitioners and physicians in family practice, internal medicine, or pediatrics.
Breast Center and/or other Radiology/Nuclear Medicine therapists and staff—The breast center may complete the initial mammogram that may detect the disease, while radiology/nuclear medicine may use clarifying imaging such as PET scans, MRIs, or CT scans.
Medical Oncologist—Primary doctor throughout the cancer journey responsible for determining the type of treatment required, regimen, and course of chemotherapy as well as any additional procedures, tests, or medications needed. Responsible for referring patients to other multi-disciplinary team members as needed, following patients while under treatment and managing their care for an extended period of time afterwards.
Medical Oncology Nurse Practitioner—Works closely with, and is an extension of, the medical oncologist in managing patients’ treatment regimens, side effects, pain, etc. in order to maintain continuity of care. Will continue to be involved in a patient’s care for an extended period of time following treatment.
Medical Oncology RN—Primarily responsible for caring for patients during administration of chemotherapy and addressing issues related to the infusion under the direction of the medical oncologist and nurse practitioner.
Radiation Oncologist—Primary doctor during radiation therapy. Typically referred by surgeon, specialist, or medical oncologist. Follows the patient throughout the treatment course and from one to three years afterwards on a periodic basis.
Radiation Oncology Nurse Practitioner—Works closely with, and is an extension of, the radiation oncologist in managing patients’ treatment courses, side effects, pain, etc. in order to maintain continuity of care. Will continue to be involved in a patient’s care on a follow-up basis for approximately one to three years afterwards.
Radiation Therapist—Responsible for the delivery of radiation to the patient on a daily basis.
Surgeon—Responsible for the surgical removal of the tumor and its surrounding area (margin). Will refer to medical or radiation oncologists or both following the outcome of the surgery. May also follow the patient for up to 1+ years afterwards.
Urologist—Doctor specializing in genitourinary diseases and issues, i.e., prostate, urinary incontinence, testicular, etc. Will act as the referring doctor to medical/radiation oncology for treatment.
OB/GYN—Doctor specializing in female reproductive issues. Will act as the referring doctor to medical/radiation oncology for treatment.
Pulmonologist—Doctor specializing in lung and/or respiratory issues. Referring MD to medical/radiation oncology for treatment to these areas.
Gastroenterologist/GI Specialists—Doctor specializing in the medical management of diseases/issues involving the stomach/intestines, colon, liver, pancreas, lower and upper GI areas, etc. Will act as the referring doctor to medical/radiation oncology for treatment to these areas.