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Types of Healthcare Professionals

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Types of Healthcare Professionals  

Why do I need so many doctors involved in my treatment for breast cancer? What do all the doctors do?

Treating your cancer will require the skills and expertise of a wide range of healthcare professionals. Usually, your primary-care doctor will be the healthcare “point person,” who was involved in your diagnosis and helps you assemble a team of experts to manage your treatment and recovery. If your primary-care doctor is not a gynecologist, a doctor who specializes in women’s health, you will need to consult with a gynecologist to help manage your treatment, either in conjunction with your other primary-care doctor or as one of the principal doctors guiding your team.

Other doctors and other healthcare professionals that may be part of your team include:

  • Radiologist: A radiologist is a doctor who specializes in imaging procedures for diagnosis and monitoring. If additional x-rays, such as bone scans or chest films, are needed during your diagnosis and treatment, a radiologist will be involved.

  • Medical Oncologist: A medical oncologist is a doctor who specializes in medications to treat cancer and to manage the side effects of treatment. He or she will be able to help determine what treatment options are best suited for your particular cancer.

  • Surgical Oncologist: A surgical oncologist is a surgeon who specializes in performing both biopsies for the diagnosis of cancer and various types of surgeries (e.g., lumpectomies and mastectomies) for the treatment of cancer.

  • Radiation Oncologist: A radiation oncologist is a doctor who specializes in radiation therapy for cancer. determines the appropriate amount of radiation therapy. If your treatment involves radiation, a radiation oncologist will determine the appropriate amount of radiation therapy and be involved in the administration of the radiation therapy to you. Not all treatment courses for cancer involve radiation, so not every team will include a radiation oncologist.

  • Plastic Surgeon: A plastic surgeon specializes in reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. Women who have had a partial or total mastectomy and desire reconstruction procedures will consult with a plastic surgeon. Together with your oncologists, the plastic surgeon can determine the best type and timing for breast reconstruction surgery.

  • Nutritionist: A nutritionist is a healthcare professional who will be able to guide your food choices during treatment. Because many treatments can impact your appetite, having a nutritionist's guidance can be very useful. Your nutritionist may be able to recommend foods or supplements that will help you maintain your energy level during treatment.

  • It is nice to think of the group of doctors and other healthcare professionals involved in your treatment as your team. Remember, your team is there, not only to make sure your get the best medical care possible, but also to answer your questions and make sure you are as comfortable as possible during treatment.

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