If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, your oncologist is probably the one doctor you will see the most often. This doctor will coordinate your care and treatment throughout the course of your illness. The field of clinical oncology is divided into three separate disciplines, medical oncology, surgical oncology and radiation oncology, and each type of oncologist completes different medical training and has different qualifications. Mesothelioma patients may be treated by two or even all three types of oncologists, since many patients combine two or more modes of treatment.
- Medical oncologists specialize in treating cancer with chemotherapy, and work in conjunction with primary care doctors and other medical specialists.
- Surgical oncologists specialize in the surgical aspects of cancer, including biopsy procedures, and may focus on a specific type of cancer, such as mesothelioma.
- Radiation oncologists specialize in treating cancer with radiation therapy.
It is the role of the medical oncologist to explain your diagnosis and the stage of your disease, and taking these things into consideration, discuss treatment options and recommend what may be best in your particular case. It is his or her goal to give the best aggressive care possible, while at the same time, offering pain management and symptom control.
You will probably be referred to a local oncologist once your diagnosis has been confirmed, however, since mesothelioma is a rare cancer, you may find this particular oncologist has treated a small number of mesothelioma cases. This does not mean the doctor is not qualified to treat you, but simply that their knowledge of the disease may be somewhat limited, and they may not be able to answer every question you may have regarding your specific type of cancer. If it is important to you and your family to deal with someone more specialized in the areas of pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma, there are oncologists on staff at major cancer centers or research institutions who might better fit your needs. The most important factor, in any event, is that you feel comfortable with your care and feel confident in your relationship with your oncologist.