It is important to note that Oncology operates under two separate strands, Medical Oncology and Clinical Oncology, both of which focus on non-surgical management of malignant diseases. The main difference between these strands is that Clinical Oncology utilises Radiotherapy as a method of treatment whilst Medical Oncologists use non-radiological treatments. Considering this, the qualifications needed for specialty training in each strand differ. Clinical Oncology training is supervised through the Royal College of Radiologists (FRCR) and Medical Oncology through the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP).
Most UK Hospitals will have their own Oncology department, whether it be a Specialist Cancer Hospital, a large Teaching Hospital or a district general hospital, where teams of both Medical and Clinical Oncologists will work. It is important to note, there can be some travel between different sites.
Regional Cancer Centres are also another place of work for both Medical and Clinical Oncologists in the UK. These Units provide highly specialist cancer care to patients around the UK. These include but are not limited to the following sites:
In short, yes! Oncologists undergo training in the management of all types of cancers and can operate as a ‘General Oncologist’ either in the Clinical or Medical field, however many Oncologists will increasingly concentrate on treating one or two types of cancer. These are known as ‘Site Specialties’. These include but are not limited to:
Notably, the most common site specialties are Breast, lung and Genito-Urinary.
As an Oncologist you will already know that the specialty is clinically focused, with much of the working week spent in outpatient clinics, radiotherapy departments, and on the wards. Clinical Oncologists in particular, will spend at least one session a week in the technical planning of radiotherapy for individual patients.
The On-Call demand for an Oncologist working in the NHS will vary however may be around one in eight. You’ll often be asked to provide advice to colleagues over the phone, if on-call over the night, for situations that develop in these hours, such as problems after chemotherapy.
Another very important thing to note is that Oncologists will be expected to carry out and contribute to research through Clinical Trials and Assessments. Consultants are often heavily involved in this, running clinical trials and developing new technologies to benefit patients. Time must also be spent writing reports for GPs and other doctors, writing up computerised notes and answering emails and enquiries.
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