Your health care team
During and after treatment, you will see a range of health professionals who specialise in different aspects of your care. The main specialist doctor you will see when having chemotherapy is a medical oncologist for solid cancers or a haematologist for blood cancers.
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You may be referred to a medical oncologist or haematologist by your general practitioner (GP) or by another specialist such as a surgeon. Treatment options will often be discussed with other health professionals at what is known as a multidisciplinary team (MDT) meeting.
It is important to have a relationship with a GP as they will be involved in your ongoing care, particularly once cancer treatment finishes.
The health professionals you see may include:
|GP||assists you with treatment decisions and works in partnership with your specialists in providing ongoing care|
|medical oncologist or haematologist||treats cancer with drug therapies such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy (systemic treatment)|
|radiation oncologist||treats cancer by prescribing and overseeing a course of radiation therapy|
|surgeon||surgically removes tumours and performs some biopsies; specialist cancer surgeons are called surgical oncologists|
|cancer care coordinator||coordinates your care, liaises with other members of the MDT, and supports you and your family throughout treatment; may also be a clinical nurse consultant (CNC) or clinical nurse specialist (CNS)|
|nurse or nurse practitioner||administers drugs, including chemotherapy, and provides care, information and support throughout your treatment; a nurse practitioner works in an advanced nursing role and may prescribe some medicines and tests|
|pharmacist||dispenses medicines and gives advice about dosage and side effects|
|palliative care specialist and nurses||work closely with the GP and cancer team to help control symptoms and maintain quality of life|
|dietitian||recommends an eating plan to follow while you are in treatment and recovery|
|social worker||links you to support services and helps you with emotional, practical and financial issues|
|occupational therapist, physiotherapist||assist with physical and practical problems, including restoring movement and mobility after treatment, and recommending aids and equipment|
|psychologist, counsellor||help you manage your emotional response to diagnosis and treatment|
You may be able to have some appointments with your health professionals from home over the phone or a video link. This is known as telehealth and it can reduce the number of times you need to attend hospital.
Although telehealth can’t replace all face-to-face appointments, you can use it to talk about a range of issues including test results, prescriptions and side effects.
For more information talk to your treatment team, listen to our Telehealth for Cancer podcast episode or call 13 11 20.
Clinical A/Prof Rosemary Harrup, Director, Cancer and Blood Services, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; Katie Benton, Advanced Dietitian, Cancer Care, Sunshine Coast Hospital and Queensland Health, QLD; Gillian Blanchard, Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Stacey Burton, Consumer; Dr Fiona Day, Staff Specialist, Medical Oncology, Calvary Mater Newcastle, and Conjoint Senior Lecturer, The University of Newcastle, NSW; Andrew Greig, Consumer; Steve Higgs, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Prof Desmond Yip, Clinical Director, Department of Medical Oncology, The Canberra Hospital, ACT.
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Click below to download a PDF booklet on this topic.
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