Oncology is a medical specialty dealing with diagnostics and treatment of benign and malignant tumors consisting of several special branches since tumors may affect almost any organs of the body. Certain types of oncological diseases may even be detected with self-assessment, but screening programs have a significant role in allowing these diseases to be diagnosed in a yet symptom-free stage and therefore be curable.
Medical and laboratory tests and diagnostic imaging scans help exploring pathological alterations, but in order to get a certain diagnosis, it is necessary to perform a histological or cytological test following a sampling procedure that may cause a minimal amount of pain, as these help to make sure whether the lesion is benign or malignant. The other cornerstone of treatment planning is determining the tumor’s extension using the available modalities of x-ray, ultrasound, CT, MRI or perhaps isotope scans. Following the establishment of the accurate diagnosis, decision is made concerning the method of treatment based on the affected organ, the tumor type, the stage of advancement, the extension of metastases, and the patient’s general condition.
Of the treatment options of tumor diseases, surgical solution is often the most promising method in terms of cure but radiation therapy lasting for several weeks may be also an option aiming to kill the cancerous tumor, slow down tumor growth, and relieve pain. The essence of this treatment is to expose the affected body area to focused ionizing radiation carrying large energy leading to partial damage to the healthy cells as well, therefore the applied modern technologies may play a significant role in addition to specific medical knowledge in optimizing the results.
The essence of chemotherapy is to treat the patient by medications (cytostatics) which inhibit the growth of cancer cells and/or kill these cells. Unfortunately, these medications also affect healthy cells, therefore they often have unpleasant side effects (e.g. hair loss, nausea, discoloration of the skin, etc.) In some cases (e.g. lymphoma, leukemia) chemotherapy may lead to recovery in itself, but often it is used to supplement surgical and radiation therapy.
In order to provide a service with appropriate effectivity, not only the experts of clinical oncology (onco-team) have a significant role, but also multidisciplinary consultations (internal medicine and other consultations, knowledge of accompanying diseases, therapies, regular and oncological medications) and the follow-up and control of surgical interventions and supplementary treatments too. In order to achieve this, a holistic approach of treatment and care with unlimited time is necessary, including the guidance of frightened and uncertain patients plus patient education and guidance with proper information of their families (including any arising alternative therapies and palliative or hospice services as well).