Oncologists as Cancer Specialists in the Philippines

The word “oncologist” just means cancer specialist.

Physician oncologists are physicians who specialize in treating patients with cancers.

Physician oncologists can be surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pediatric oncologists; gynecologic oncologists; hematologist-oncologist; etc.

A surgical oncologist is cancer surgeon.  He / she is a surgeon who specializes in the operation of patients with cancer-tumors.  At times, he / she administers chemotherapy and other anti-cancer drugs.

There are different types of surgical oncologists.

  • A general surgeon is a cancer surgeon if he / she has been trained to do cancer surgery in adult patients (particularly in head and neck, breast, abdomen, and skin and soft tissues).
  • A pediatric surgeon is a cancer surgeon if he / she has been trained to do cancer surgery in pediatric patients.
  • A urologist is a cancer surgeon if he / she has been trained to do cancer surgery in the kidney, urinary bladder, penis and urethra.
  • A neurosurgeon is a cancer surgeon if he / she has been trained to do cancer surgery in the brain and spinal cord.
  • A thoracic surgeon is a cancer surgeon if he / she has been trained to do cancer surgery in the chest.
  • An orthopedic surgeon is a cancer surgeon if he / she has been trained to do cancer surgery in the bones.
  • A head and neck surgeon is a cancer surgeon if he / she has been trained to do cancer surgery in the head and neck area.
  • A breast surgeon is a cancer surgeon if he / she has been trained to do cancer surgery in the breast.
  • A colorectal surgeon is a cancer surgeon if he / she has been trained to do cancer surgery in the colon and rectum.
  • A hepatobiliary surgeon is cancer surgeon if he / she has been trained to do cancer surgery in the hepatobiliary tree and pancreas.
  • So forth and so forth.

A gynecologic oncologist is an obstetrician-gynecologist who specializes in the operation of female patients with gynecologic cancers such as uterine and cervical cancers.  At times, he  / she administers chemotherapy and other anti-cancer drugs.

 

A medical oncologist is an internist who specializes in the nonsurgical or medical treatment of adult patients with cancer.  He / she treats adult patients with chemotherapy and other drugs.

A pediatric oncologist is a pediatrician who specializes in the nonsurgical or medical treatment of pediatric patients with cancer.  He / she treats pediatric patients with chemotherapy and other drugs.

A radiation oncologist is a physician who specializes in the treatment of cancer patients needing radiation therapy.

 

A hematologist-oncologist (adult or pediatric) is a physician (internist or pediatrician) who treats blood cancers such as leukemia.

Thus, in the Philippines, “oncologist” does not refer to medical oncologist (as commonly perceived because the title of medical oncologist was the first one to be popularized in the Philippines).  “Oncologist” refers to any one of the physician-oncologists mentioned above.

One has to choose which oncologist to consult.  Usually, the organ or system affected by the cancer will dictate which oncologist to consult.

For example,

A neurosurgeon-surgical oncologist should be consulted for a brain tumor or cancer.

A urologist-surgical oncologist should be consulted for a kidney tumor or cancer.

A thoracic-surgical oncologist should be consulted for a chest tumor or cancer.

A general surgeon-surgical oncologist with specialization on breast cancer surgery should be consulted for a breast tumor or cancer.  (Or a breast surgical oncologist should be consulted for a breast tumor or cancer.)

A general surgeon-surgical oncologist with specialization on head and neck cancer surgery should be consulted for a neck and neck tumor or cancer.  (Or a head and neck surgical oncologist should be consulted for a head and neck tumor or cancer.)

A general surgeon-surgical oncologist with specialization on hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancer surgery should be consulted for a hepatobiliary and pancreatic tumor or cancer.  (Or a hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgical oncologist should be consulted for a hepatobiliary and pancreatic tumor or cancer.)

A general surgeon-surgical oncologist with specialization on colorectal cancer surgery should be consulted for a colorectal tumor or cancer.  (Or a colorectal surgical oncologist should be consulted for a colorectal tumor or cancer.)

An obstetrician-gynecologist with specialization on gynecologic cancer surgery should be consulted for a gynecologic tumor or cancer.  (Or a gynecologic oncologist should be consulted for a gynecologic tumor or cancer.)

A pediatric surgeon – surgical oncologist should be consulted for a pediatric patient with tumor or cancer.

A medical oncologist should be consulted if there is a need for chemotherapy and other anti-cancer drug treatment in an adult patient.

A pediatric oncologist should be consulted if there is a need for chemotherapy and other anti-cancer drug treatment in a pediatric patient.

A radiation oncologist should be consulted if there is a need for radiation therapy.

An adult hematologic-oncologist  should be consulted for adults with blood cancer.  A pediatric hematologic-oncologist  should be consulted for pediatric patients with blood cancer.

Since majority of cancers are solid tumors and more often treated with surgery as the primary modality, usually the surgical oncologists are consulted first.  Medical and radiation oncologists are subsequently referred to by the surgical oncologists as indicated.

Reynaldo O. Joson, MD, MSc Surg
General Surgeon-Surgical Oncologist

ROJ-TPOR@17jan20

 

 

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