Your health care team
The type of surgeon you see will depend on the location of the cancer. For example, your GP may refer you to a breast surgeon, gynaecological oncologist (female reproductive system), urologist (urinary tract or kidneys; male reproductive system), thoracic surgeon (chest and lung), colorectal surgeon (bowel), or head and neck surgeon. Sometimes your main specialist will be a general surgeon.
Treatment options will often be discussed with other health professionals at what is known as a multidisciplinary team (MDT) meeting. This means health professionals work together to plan your treatment and manage care. See our information about specific cancer types to learn more about the health professionals you may see.
It is recommended that complex cancer surgeries are done by an experienced surgeon who works in an MDT in a specialist centre. Centres that do a high number of these procedures may have better outcomes.
To find cancer specialists, multidisciplinary teams and hospitals in NSW or ACT, you can visit the NSW Government website CanRefer.
|surgeon||surgically removes tumours and performs some biopsies; specialist cancer surgeons may be called surgical oncologists|
|reconstructive (plastic) surgeon||performs surgery that restores, repairs or reconstructs the body’s appearance and function|
|anaesthetist||assesses your health before surgery; administers anaesthesia and looks after you during the surgery; commonly plans your pain relief after surgery|
|operating room staff||include anaesthetists, technicians and nurses who prepare you for surgery and care for you during the operation and recovery|
|junior medical staff||doctors at different levels of training, who look after patients under the supervision of a fully qualified surgeon or anaesthetist; includes registrars, fellows and resident medical officers|
|cancer care coordinator||coordinates your care, liaises with other members of the MDT and supports you and your family throughout treatment; may also be called a nurse consultant or cancer nurse specialist|
|nurse||administers drugs and provides care, information and support throughout your treatment|
|pathologist||examines cells and tissue samples to determine the type and extent of the cancer|
|pharmacist||dispenses medicines and gives advice about dosage and side effects|
|dietitian||helps with nutrition concerns and recommends changes to diet during treatment and recovery|
|help you manage your emotional response to diagnosis and treatment; a psycho-oncologist specialises in the field of cancer care|
|recommends and oversees treatment to help you recover and return to your usual activities|
|help restore movement and mobility, and improve fitness and wellbeing; physiotherapists also help with breathing exercises and managing lymphoedema|
|occupational therapist||assists in adapting your living and working environment to help you resume usual activities after treatment|
|speech pathologist||helps with communication, voice and swallowing difficulties during and after treatment|
|social worker||links you to support services and helps you with emotional, practical and financial issues|
Prof Elisabeth Elder, Specialist Breast Surgeon, Westmead Breast Cancer Institute and University of Sydney, NSW; Chanelle Curnuck, Dietitian – Dietetics and Nutrition, Sir Charles Gairdner Osborne Park Health Care Group, WA; Department of Anaesthetics, Perioperative Medicine and Pain Medicine, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Jessica Feeney, Nurse Unit Manager, Breast, Endocrine and Gynaecology, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; A/Prof Richard Gallagher, Head and Neck Surgeon, Director of Cancer Services and Head and Neck Cancer Services, St Vincent’s Health Network, NSW; John Leung, Consumer; Rohan Miegel, Senior Physiotherapist – Cancer Care, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; A/Prof Nicholas O’Rourke, University of Queensland and Head of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Royal Brisbane Hospital, QLD; Lucy Pollerd, Social Worker, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Suzanne Ryan, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Department of General Surgery, Sunshine Coast University Hospital, QLD; Rebecca Yeoh, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.