Medical Oncology is an internal medicine subspecialty which involves the diagnosis and management of benign and malignant neoplasms. A medical oncologist is an internal medicine doctor who has completed two years of accredited fellowship training beyond completion of a four year internal medicine residency, and is trained in diagnosing, staging and treating cancer. Internists practicing oncology (“oncologists”) typically assist general internists and other physicians in identifying individuals at risk for malignancy and investigating clinical symptoms and syndromes suggestive of underlying cancer. In patients with a diagnosed neoplasm, oncologists frequently undertake the care of patients with solid and hematologic tumors to attempt a cure or to prolong life and/or palliate symptoms. Oncology is frequently coupled with training in hematology in a combined hematology-oncology fellowship program. This dual certification in hematology and medical oncology requires three years of combined fellowship training and it prepares an internist to diagnose, treat, and manage a wide range of related diseases.
These specialists also lead the development of the cancer patient’s treatment plan, which may include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or hormone therapy, while also coordinating with other oncology specialists and clinicians who may have a role in the patient’s care. A medical oncologist is the doctor a cancer patient will continue to see after treatment for checkups over the long-term.