A medical oncologist is a specialist physician who is chiefly concerned with the diagnoses, treatment and management of conditions such as cancer. There are surgical oncologists, but this particular branch of medicine is concerned with the treatment of conditions through the use of systemic medication, therapy and cytotoxic agents. This is a specialist branch of medicine that mixes laboratory work with face-to-face patient treatment, of which there are few like it.

A medical oncologist would need to provide after-care for patients who are dealing with their condition, or who are recovering from surgery. This may involve the use of therapy. A medical oncologist would work alongside other physicians of sub-specialities and would need to be receptive of their opinions. There is the chance to become a consultant once enough experience has been attained, and this would give you the chance to travel around the country, giving your expert advice and treatment to patients. There may also be the chance to travel abroad.

Work activities

Typical work activities a medical oncologist would need to carry out include:

  • There will be the chance to work on both a clinical level and to conduct laboratory work.
  • Be sensitive when dealing with such sensitive issues as cancer.
  • Use systemic drugs to help treat patients.
  • Provide therapy for patients who have relevant conditions, or who are recovering from surgical operations.
  • Work with other sub-specialists in order to ensure that the best possible treatment is delivered to patients.
  • Use techniques such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy and biotherapy.
  • Possibly become a consultant and be given the chance to travel around the country or abroad to help treat patients.
  • Work in environments such as hospitals and specialist clinics.
  • Continue to study in order to keep up-to-date with any advances in the diagnoses and treatment of patients who have cancer.

Essential skills

  • Organised and professional manner.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • A real desire to help people combat and manage what can be emotionally damaging conditions.
  • An aptitude for and enjoyment of medicine.
  • Work as an individual and as part of a team of sub-specialists.
  • Leadership qualities and also the ability to take orders.
  • Desire to maintain study in order to learn of new theories and treatments.
  • A friendly manner as you will be dealing with sensitive topics.
  • Clinical analytical skills.
  • Able to remain composed in stressful situations.