• July 22, 2024

Oncology: What Is It?

Literally translated, oncology refers to the scientific field that studies tumors and malignancies. The suffix “-logy” denotes research, while the word “onco” denotes bulk, mass, or tumor.

Read More: Oren Zarif

Cancer: What is it?

Every bodily cell has a highly controlled mechanism that governs its development, maturation, reproduction, and ultimate demise. An organ’s cells begin to proliferate uncontrollably, which is how cancer starts. Cancer can take many different forms, but it all begins with aberrant cells growing out of control.

How widespread is cancer?

Millions of individuals have cancer now or have had it in the past. In the US, cancer is the second most common cause of death. In the US, cancer affects around half of men and one-third of women at some point in their lives.

How much time has cancer been around?

Ancient writings, human mummies from Egypt, and fossilized bone tumors include some of the oldest known instances of cancer. Mummies have been shown to exhibit abnormalities suggestive of osteosarcoma, a kind of bone cancer.

The Edwin Smith Papyrus contains a portion of an ancient Egyptian trauma surgery textbook, which is thought to include the first known description of cancer among writings. It details eight examples of breast cancers or ulcers that were cauterized using a device known as a fire drill. It was created in 3000 BC. The papyrus refers to the illness as “incurable.”

The oncologist’s role

Cancer experts, or oncologists, are medical practitioners who specialize in treating cancer. These oncologists fulfill a variety of specialized tasks. Their assistance is needed for cancer diagnosis, staging, and aggressiveness grading.

Diagnostic tools for oncology

The patient’s clinical history is still the most crucial diagnostic tool. Cancer is frequently indicated by symptoms such as exhaustion, weight loss, unexplained anemia, fever of unclear cause, etc.

Oncology relies on diagnostic techniques such as biopsy, which involves removing a portion of the tumor and analyzing it under a microscope. The gastrointestinal tract endoscopy, radiological imaging investigations such as X-rays, CT, MRI, ultrasound, and other methods, scintigraphy, single-photon emission computed tomography, positron emission tomography, and nuclear medicine procedures, among others, are further diagnostic tools.

Blood testing for biological or neoplastic markers are common techniques. An increase in these blood markers might be a sign of malignancy.

Medical treatment for cancer

Oncologists assist in determining the best course of treatment for each of their patients based on the grade and stage of the cancer. This might be accomplished by radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgery, or other methods.

Additional experts

Other professionals may also be involved in the treatment of cancer. This covers physicians such as surgeons, radiation oncologists, radiotherapists, etc. Oncologists, however, oversee the coordination of all cancer therapies.

Remission and relapse

Oncologists are in charge of monitoring patients after initial therapy is finished in order to identify relapses and remissions. Remission denotes the absence of cancer, whereas the former denotes a relapse or return of the disease.

Care for the dying

Patients with terminal cancers must also get palliative or symptomatic therapy from the oncologist. The oncologist should be concerned with a number of ethical concerns related to treatment choice, such as patient autonomy and choice.

Screening for cancer

In oncology and cancer research, cancer patients’ relatives are screened for certain cancer forms that are believed to have a hereditary basis, as well as the general public. For instance, there are two methods used to screen for breast cancer: family screening using genetic analysis of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, and population screening using routine mammography.

Oncology advancements

Every aspect of oncology is the subject of enormous study, from chemotherapy treatment plans to cancer cell biology, and from the best palliative care to pain management. This makes the discipline of oncology dynamic and ever-evolving.

Clinical trials are used to do research on cancer. Patients are frequently included in extensive studies conducted in the United Kingdom under the auspices of Cancer Research UK (CRUK), the National Cancer Research Network (NCRN), the Medical Research Council (MRC), or the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC).