Medical oncology uses medicine to treat cancer. Medicines include chemotherapy (which may be given intravenously or by pills), hormones, or biologic therapy (antibodies). Infusion and chemotherapy services are provided under the direct supervision of medical oncologists and administered by oncology certified nurses. Our expert oncologists are highly skilled in developing personalized treatment plans to slow or stop the cancer's ability to grow and proliferate.
Medical oncologists are physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The scope of practice of a medical oncologist is largely directed by the stage of the malignancy (cancer). For example, the treatment of early-stage cancer may involve surgery or radiation, while advanced-stage cancer may require chemotherapy.
Most people are referred to an oncologist if cancer is suspected or confirmed by a primary care doctor or other specialists. The oncologist will begin the investigation by performing additional tests to either confirm the diagnosis or characterize the malignancy.
This will then be followed by cancer staging using X-rays, lab tests, and other procedures to determine the extent of the cancer. This is determined by six factors:
The tumor location
The type of cancer cell (such as basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma)
The size of the tumor
Whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes
Whether it has spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body
The grade of the tumor (a classification of how likely a tumor will grow based on the cell characteristics)
In addition to helping direct the treatment plan, cancer staging can predict survival times and the likely outcomes based on experience in the general population. In some cases, an organ-specific oncologist would be sought, particularly for malignancies that are rare, advanced, or aggressive.
In addition to treatment, oncologists at Burjeel Medical City are trained to manage complications that commonly arise during and after therapy. After the completion of therapy, routine tests will be scheduled to evaluate the response. Even if the cancer is brought into remission, tests may be scheduled every three to six months for two to three years.
To ensure you remain healthy, our medical oncologists will direct you to the appropriate services to aid in your physical and emotional recovery and teach you the survivorship skills to not only cope but thrive over the long term.
Bone and musculoskeletal oncology (cancers of bones and soft tissue)
Gastrointestinal oncology (cancers of stomach, colon, rectum, anus, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas)
Genitourinary oncology (cancers of the genitals and urinary tract)
Gynecologic oncology (cancers of the female reproductive system)
Head and neck oncology (cancers of the mouth, nasal cavity, pharynx, and larynx)
Hemato-oncology (cancers of the blood and the use of stem cell transplants)
Nuclear medicine oncology (the diagnosis and treatment of cancer with radioactive pharmaceuticals)
Neuro-oncology (cancers of the brain)
Ocular oncology (cancers of the eye)
Oncopathology (the diagnosis of cancer in the laboratory)
Pain and palliative oncology (treating end-stage cancers to alleviate suffering)
Thoracic oncology (cancers of lung, esophagus, and pleura)
A medical oncologist manages a patient’s care throughout the course of the disease. This starts with the diagnosis and staging of the cancer. Treatment follows based on the results with follow-ups scheduled to monitor response, identify relapse, or direct palliative care.
The tools used to diagnose cancer are extensive and involve lab tests, imaging studies, and other invasive or non-invasive procedures. Among them:
Physical examinations are used to evaluate lumps, masses, lesions, or changes in skin color indicative of cancer.
Complete blood counts (CBC) can detect abnormalities in blood chemistry suggestive of leukemia while monitoring for the development of anemia, infection, or other complications during treatment.
Tumor markers tests are blood tests used to measure substances in the blood that tend to rise if there is cancer. These include the prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) to detect prostate cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2 tests used for both breast and ovarian cancer, and the CA-125 test used to detect a tumor associated with a range of cancers.
Flow cytometry evaluates cells suspended in fluid and is useful in diagnosing leukemia or lymphoma from a sample of blood or bone marrow.
Biopsy is the removal of a tissue or fluid sample from the body for evaluation under the microscope. The sample may be obtained with fine needle aspiration (FNA), core needle biopsy, cone biopsy, or surgery.
Imaging studies are used to locate or diagnose cancer and may include X-ray, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Nuclear medicine imaging, utilizing radioactive tracers, can diagnose specific types of cancer, while positron emission tomography (PET) can detecting change in metabolism consistent with can.
Genomic testing can help identify the chromosomal characteristics of a tumor and help the oncologist understand what is driving the disease and select the most appropriate candidate drug therapies.
Many of these tests are used not only to diagnose cancer. They can also measure your response to treatment or monitor for disease recurrence after treatment.
The TNM system is the most widely used cancer staging system. Not all cancers rely on this system (including cancers of the brain, spinal cord, or blood) but are loosely based on it. In the TNM system:
The T refers to the size and extent of the primary tumor.
The N refers to the number of nearby lymph nodes with cancer.
The M refers to whether a cancer has metastasized.
Additional number and letters are used indicate the size and extent of a tumor, how many lymph nodes are affected, and how far the cancer has spread. Based on these characteristics, the oncologist can formulate a treatment plan, ensuring that you are neither undertreated nor overtreated.