Oncology is a medical speciality focusing on the treatment of cancer, and is most often used to mean the non-surgical treatment of malignancy (cancer). These non surgical treatments include radiotherapy (X-ray treatment), chemotherapy (cytotoxic drug treatment), monoclonal antibody drugs, hormone drugs, targeted drugs and supportive medications.
These cancer treatments can be used individually as sole treatments, follow one another in a series of treatments, or be used together at the same time. They can also be used as the first treatment (called primary or neoadjuvant), after surgery (adjuvant), or when a cancer has relapsed. They can be used with the aim of trying to cure a cancer, or if incurable, controlling the cancer for as long as possible and helping to relieve symptoms caused by the cancer. How they are actually used will depend on the type of tumour, its stage, the patient’s medical history, the patient’s general health to tolerate the treatment and the patient’s wishes.
An oncologist or haematologist are people who specialise in the treatments of cancer. In the UK there are two types of oncologist, clinical oncologists and medical oncologists. An oncologist treats patient’s with a solid tumour e.g breast, lung, colorectal, gynaecological, brain, neuro-endocrine, kidney, liver, head and neck and many other sites. A clinical oncologist can prescribe all the treatments described above, including radiotherapy, whereas a medical oncologist or haematologist cannot prescribe radiotherapy but can use all the other options. A haematologist specialises in cancers of the blood e.g. lymphoma, myeloma and leukaemia’s to name a few.
All of our cancer patients are supported by a team of specialist chemotherapy trained nurses. Each patient will be allocated a nurse to act as their key worker to make sure they have the appropriate support, information and advice throughout their cancer pathway. The majority of cancer patients whom require chemotherapy can be treated in Jersey at the Oncology Unit. Patients who require chemotherapy as an in-patient over 24hrs and some specialist sites specific are treated at specialist centres in the UK. All radiotherapy treatment is off island in the UK.