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Overview of oncology

Oncology is a medical specialty that focuses on diagnosing, treating, and preventing cancer.

Cancer occurs when abnormal cells replicate uncontrollably and spread throughout the body. Recent discoveries in genetics and biology have revolutionized cancer care. Today, many types of cancer are treatable.

An oncologist often leads a multidisciplinary care team that includes surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, nurses, and social workers. These teams are dedicated to providing research-based care for people with cancer. You can find oncologists in our hospitals, cancer care centers, and clinics.

The term oncology generally refers to medical oncology, which is a subspecialty of internal medicine. Other types of oncology include:

  • Gynecologic oncology, which focuses on the medical and surgical care of cancer affecting the female reproductive organs
  • Pediatric hematology and oncology, which provides medical care to infants and children with cancer
  • Radiation oncology, which focuses on radiation treatment for cancer
  • Surgical oncology, which uses surgery to diagnose and treat many types of cancer

At Dignity Health, we provide world-class oncology services through an experienced cancer care team. Find a Doctor near you.

Common Conditions

Cancer can occur anywhere in the body. Some of the most common types include: 

  • Carcinomas: cancers of the skin or the tissues that line the internal organs
  • Sarcomas: cancers that develop in connective tissues such as bone, cartilage, fat, and muscle
  • Leukemias: cancers originating in the blood or bone marrow
  • Lymphomas: cancers originating in the immune system
  • Central nervous system cancer: cancers originating in the spinal cord or brain

Cancer manifests differently depending on the type of malignant cell and which areas of the body are affected. It is common for early-stage cancers to have few or no symptoms.

Our highly trained oncologists at Dignity Health can treat many different types of cancer, including:

  • Bladder, kidney, and other genitourinary cancers
  • Brain tumors
  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical, ovarian, uterine, and other gynecologic cancers
  • Colorectal, stomach, pancreatic, and other gastrointestinal cancers
  • Leukemia and other blood cancers
  • Lung cancer
  • Oral, esophageal, thyroid, and other head and neck cancers
  • Prostate and testicular cancer
  • Skin cancer, including melanoma

Common Treatments

Our oncologists help people with new or recurring cancer explore diagnostic procedures and treatment options. They perform or order tests to confirm the presence, location, staging, and spread of cancer. They also provide regular monitoring to determine if treatment is working. They modify treatment plans as necessary.

When you come to Dignity Health, you will have a care team of oncologists and other specialists who provide:

  • Medical treatments, including chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy to cure or stop the spread of cancer
  • Surgical treatment to remove cancer cells or tumors
  • Ongoing medical management of other health conditions, along with aggressive prevention and control of treatment-related side effects
  • Palliative therapies, including medications and physical therapy to manage pain and other symptoms during and after cancer treatment

Our oncologists offer research-based services for the prevention and treatment of cancer. To find out more, make an appointment at a location near you.

The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.