Oncology at St.Philomena's Hospital is a branch that deals with the medicine that studies tumors (cancer) and seeks to understand their development, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. A medical professional who practices oncology is an oncologist.
The oncologist often coordinates the multidisciplinary care of cancer patients, which may involve physiotherapy, counseling, clinical genetics, to name but a few. On the other hand, the oncologist often has to liaise with pathologists on the exact biological nature of the tumor that is being treated. Oncology is concerned with:
• The diagnosis of cancer Therapy (e.g. surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and
• Follow-up of cancer patients after successful treatment
• Palliative care of patients with terminal malignancies
• Ethical questions surrounding cancer care
The most important diagnostic tool remains the medical history: the character of the complaints and any specific symptoms (fatigue, weight loss, unexplained anemia, fever of unknown origin, paraneoplastic phenomena and other signs). Often a physical examination will reveal the location of a malignancy.
Diagnostic methods include:
• Biopsy, either incisional or excisional;
• Endoscopy, either upper or lower gastrointestinal, bronchoscopy, or nasendoscopy;
• X-rays, CT scanning, MRI scanning, ultrasound and other radiological techniques;
• Scintigraphy, Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography, Positron emission tomography and other methods of nuclear medicine;
• Blood tests, including Tumor markers, which can increase the suspicion of certain types of tumors or even be pathognomonic of a particular disease.
Apart from in diagnosis, these modalities (especially imaging by CT scanning)
are often used to determine operability, i.e. whether it is surgically
possible to remove a tumor in its entirety.