Choosing Cancer Specialists

Service:

Physicians Who Treat Cancer

Choosing physician specialists to treat your cancer is an important decision to make. When selecting a team of physicians to treat cancer, it is important to look for specialists who are highly trained in their fields. The comprehensive teams of expert cancer specialists at MemorialCare Cancer Institute located in Orange County and Los Angeles County are devoted to the fight against cancer.

Why are there so many different cancer specialists?

Cancer can be treated effectively with a team of oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, and geneticists who are trained in the treatment of various types of cancers. Specialists will work as a team and with you to develop a comprehensive strategy to treat your cancer while aiming for the best possible results.

What does each cancer specialist do?

  • Oncologist & Hematologist or Oncologist – Medical - A physician who specializes in the medical treatment of cancer. These physicians have extensive knowledge on how cancers behave, grow and attack the body. The physician utilizes their knowledge to determine your risk of cancer recurrence as well as advantages a various course of treatments such as chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, or targeted therapy. Generally, your medical oncologist manages your overall care and monitors your progress during your course of cancer treatment. The oncologist reviews your lab and imaging results, and coordinates your medical care throughout treatment and recovery.
  • Radiation Oncologist - A physician trained in cancer treatments using radiation therapy.
  • General Surgeon - A surgeon who is trained in performing biopsies and surgical procedures to remove cancer tissue such as a tumor.
  • Pain Medicine – A physician who specializes in the easing of suffering and improving the quality of life for those experiencing extreme pain.
  • Plastic Surgeon - A surgeon who specializes in reconstructive techniques.
  • Pathologist - A physician who checks your tissue samples under a microscope. They determine whether cancer is present, its size, if the cancer was removed completely by surgery. The pathologist's report also tells the stage of cancer.
  • Psychiatrist – A physician who is specialized in the study, diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders. 
  • Radiologist – A physician who is trained at interpreting images and X-rays such as a mammogram.
  • Medical Geneticist or Clinical Genetics (MD) - A physician trained to evaluate the chance of each person having a gene for cancer. Geneticist conducts genetic risk assessment and genetic counseling.

In addition to cancer specialists, other medical professionals may be involved in your cancer treatment, including:

  • Patient (Nurse) Navigator - Helps newly diagnosed cancer patients with care coordination, symptom management, support and expertise to help get them through the journey. Our nurse navigator is an advanced practice oncology nurse who provides support and expertise to patients throughout the continuum of care.
  • Radiation Therapist – A professional who helps place you in the correct treatment position and interprets X-ray studies.
  • Radiation Technologist – A professional who checks the radiation dosage to make it as safe as possible.
  • Registered Dietitians (RD) or Registered Diet Technicians – A professional who specializes in food and nutrition. They advise what foods to eat in order to live a healthy active lifestyle and to achieve total-health goals.

How to find a cancer specialist

Talking to your primary care physician and asking them for a referral to a cancer specialist is a good first step. Oncologist and hematologists, radiation oncologists, general surgeons, plastic surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, medical geneticist, clinical genetics can be searched in our Find a Doctor physician’s directory. MemorialCare Cancer Institute offer second-opinion programs to help you understand your diagnosis and treatment options.