All You Need To Know About Oncology

  • By Like Hire
  • 9 May, 2021

1. Introduction to Oncology:

Oncology is a discipline of medicine that is concerned with specialization in the domain of cancer diagnosis and treatment. The scope of oncology encompasses the following:

1. Medical oncology: This involves the treatment of cancer with the use of chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and other medicines.

2. Radiation Oncology: This domain of oncology includes cancer treatment with the help of radiation therapy.

3. Surgical Oncology: This area of oncology is concerned with the treatment of cancer with the help of surgical procedures.

An oncologist is a physician who has obtained specialization and is highly trained to conduct investigations, diagnosis, and then provides treatment to patients who are suffering from or suspected of having cancer. Oncologists are trained to treat a variety of cancers that may originate in different parts of the body.

2. Roles of an Oncologist

The roles of oncologists revolve around the comprehensive treatment of cancer. Beginning with the diagnosis, oncologists undertakes all of the below-mentioned roles:

  • Oncologists communicate the cancer diagnosis to the patient, explaining all the complications, as well as the stage of cancer that the patient is suffering with. 
  • Oncologists advise the patients on the different treatment alternatives that are available.
  • The main role of an oncologist is to provide compassionate care and quality treatment to cancer patients. 
  • Oncologists also help patients to mitigate and manage the symptoms and side effects that are associated with cancer treatment.
  • Oncologists conduct follow-ups on the treatment.
  • 3. Responsibilities of an Oncologist

Apart from being directly involved in the care and treatment of cancer patients, oncologists also undertake certain other responsibilities. Below are some of the prominent responsibilities of an oncologist:

  • Oncologists work with patients to diagnose the stage of cancer they are suffering from and discuss the different treatment options that the patient has. They also help patients to mitigate the symptoms of cancer and manage the side effects of cancer treatment.
  • Oncologists who are employed in certain hospitals are also entrusted with the responsibility of teaching and training medical students, residents, and other members of the staff.
  • Oncologists who work entirely in the domain of academia, are responsible for conducting research and clinical trials in the pursuance of new treatments of cancer. They publish their research in medical journals. Similar to specialists in other disciplines of medicine, oncologists are also responsible for training students on research studies.
  • Oncologists lead the cancer treatment team of different healthcare professionals.
  • They are responsible for establishing coordination among treatment plans and prescribing treatments of different kinds. Treatments include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy.
  • Oncologists are responsible for removing cancerous tumors by performing surgical procedures and identifying the point of origin of cancer.

They are also tasked with administrative and clerical responsibilities including maintaining records of test results, prescribing treatment in writing, and communicating with patients. Oncologists inform and educate their patients about cancer and monitor the treatment, as well.

4. Additional Skills required by Oncologists

Apart from the educational qualification, training, experience, and professional expertise, there are a few other traits that a prospective oncologist should work on developing. Below are some of those skills and qualities:

  • Oncologists should have a deep interest in cancer research and should remain updated on the latest statistics and new technologies.
  • All doctors benefit from having sensitivity and compassion in their heart for the patient’s suffering from diseases. The same is true for oncologists as well.
  • In the same vein as the above, emotional resilience is another trait that any physician or specialist can use, and definitely, oncologists should also inculcate a strong emotional resilience in order to treat patients properly.
  • Given how oncologists have to often work with other specialists from other fields of medicine, it would be useful to have some people skills. It would help you work better in a team and effectively manage other people.
  • Brilliant verbal and written communication skills are a must for any oncologist, as only then will he/she be able to work with colleagues and explain everything cohesively to patients about their condition.

5. Current Required Education for a career in Oncology

The educational path of a career in Oncology is as follows:

  • An undergraduate degree program.
  • Four years of medical school.
  • Residency or fellowship program, that depending upon the speciality, may take around 2 to 4 years.

6. Careers path for an Oncologist

There are many specialties in which an oncologist can potentially build a career in. These includes:

  • Medical oncology
  • Pediatric oncology
  • Radiation oncology
  • Gynecological oncology

Gynecology oncologists are certified by the Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology.  The American Board of Radiology provides certification to radiology oncologists.

7. Employment Sector

- Pay Scale as per the Experience

According to a March 2021 report, on average an oncologist is earning a median annual income of $281,322 in the US. Doctors from all domains of medicine will witness 4% job growth between 2019 to 2029, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

- Top healthcare institutions to work with

1. University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston)

2. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York City)

3. Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minn.)

4. Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore)

5. Cleveland Clinic

- Other Employment Opportunities

For Oncologists, there are other career opportunities as well. Apart from treating patients, oncologists may research cancer treatments and organize clinical trials. Working in the capacity of a Hematologist-oncologist, they can also diagnose and treat cancers related to blood, bone marrow, vascular and hemostatic disorders.

8. Pro & Cons of the Profession


  • Oncology is a medical profession that is in immense demand. Hence, there are many job opportunities.
  • It is an extremely gratifying profession because an oncologist gets to see and treat a variety of diseases. Also, oncologists develop long-term relationships with their patients, which is rarely the case in other medical specialities.


  • Long and erratic work hours are common for doctors and Oncologists are no different. 
  • Oncologists have to constantly learn and adapt to new electronic systems, as different hospitals utilize different systems.

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