Oncology is the study of cancer, a disease characterised by abnormal cell growth in the body. Oncology’s sub-specialities include surgical oncology, medical oncology and radiation oncology.
What do they do?
A medical oncologist provides systemic therapy such as chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted therapies, and bone marrow transplants. According to a WHO India report, by 2020, the developing world is likely to have 70% of the projected 20 million cancer-stricken patients globally.
There are, however, far fewer oncologists in India than required, especially for surgical and medical (involving therapy such as chemotherapy) treatment. As an oncologist, you will need to help a patient deal with the emotional upheaval once the cancer has been detected and the patient made aware of it. At times, patients may show you various reports from other systems of medicine, such as ayurveda, and you need to remain calm. Inter-personal skills are as crucial as medical expertise.
- Fully equipped and trained to ensure a patient’s comfort – physical and psychological
- Be sensitive, compassionate
- Good inter-personal skills; you will need to help a patient deal with the emotional upheaval once cancer has been detected
- Be a good listener
- Be self-motivated and able to put in a huge effort
How do I get there?
Study science with physics, chemistry and biology in Class 12. After completing high school, go for an MBBS degree, after which you can do either of these three-year courses: a) MS, followed by a three-year MCh programme, b) MD (medicine/ paediatrics), topped up with a DM (medical oncology) qualification or c) MD in radiotherapy. If you can’t do MS or MD, opt for a DNB (diploma).