Who is on Your Health Care Team?

Cancer is treated in a multidisciplinary way, meaning several different health care professionals are involved to provide you your cancer care.  This group of professionals makes up the cancer care team who will help you and your loved ones to:

Together, you and your health care team can work to get the best care for you. Knowing who is on your team will make it easier to efficiently manage your treatment and find resources you need. Below are some health care professionals that may be on your cancer care team.

Medical oncologist is a doctor specially trained to diagnose and treat cancer. They specialize in the use of chemotherapy and other drugs to treat cancer.

Nurses often have the most direct contact with you and will answer questions, give medicine, and provide emotional support. They are usually in charge of implementing the plan of your care your doctor has set up for you. Oncology nurses, radiation therapy nurses and oncology nurse practitioners have special training in caring for people with cancer. Nurse practitioners have additional education in the form of a master’s degree, can prescribe medications, and diagnose illnesses. 

Pathologists are a physician who examines tissues and is responsible for the accuracy of laboratory tests. They interpret the results of these examinations and tests which is information for the patient’s diagnosis and recovery.

Radiologist is a doctor who reads and interprets x-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs and other imaging tests to arrive at a diagnosis. This member of your team may also perform biopsies during special x-rays or ultrasounds.

Surgeon performs any biopsies (cells or tissues are removed from the body and examined to help with a diagnosis) or surgery that you may need.

Surgical oncologist performs operations relating to cancer. For example, this doctor may take a biopsy, remove a tumor, or put in a central line. 

Radiation oncologist is a doctor that specializes in the treatment of cancer using radiation

Dosimetrists use the radiation oncologist’s prescribed dose of radiation to your tumor to calculate and plan a radiation treatment plan specific to you. 

Radiation therapist is the person responsible for delivering radiation therapy treatments to patients.

Medical physicist is responsible for ensuring a patient receives the exact dose of radiation prescribed by the Radiation Oncologist throughout the course of treatment.

Family Doctor or general practitioner provides primary health care for you and your family. 

Social worker is a person trained to identify social and emotional needs and provide services necessary to meet them. They can help you and your family find resources to cope with the illness and its treatment. 

Pharmacist prepares and dispenses drugs and medications. They are able to explain to you how your
medications work.

Psychiatrists and psychologists are mental health specialists that can help you and your family understand, manage, and cope with feelings, thoughts, worries, and behaviors. Psychiatrists have a medical degree and have the ability to prescribe medication.

Registered dietitian can answer your questions and provide guidance on diet and nutrition throughout your treatment and recovery.

Plastic surgeon is a doctor who specializes in cosmetic and/or reconstructive surgery with the goal of improving the function and/or appearance of a body part

Rehabilitation specialists assist people in taking preventive measures to maintain their ability to perform daily activities as well as recover from physical changes caused by cancer or cancer treatment. They include the services of physical therapists, occupational therapists, counselors, speech therapists, and other professionals who help you physically recover from cancer.

Home health aides assist people who are ill and need help moving around, bathing, cooking, or doing household chores. 

Hospice care providers focuses on the special needs of people who have terminal or end-stage cancer. This type of care focuses on providing physical comfort and giving emotional or spiritual support. 

Clergy conducts religious worship and performs other spiritual functions associated with beliefs and religion. Prayer and spiritual counseling can be helpful with coping with cancer as a strong sense of spirituality can be a source of courage and a sense of hope through their cancer experience.

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