THE ROLE OF MEDICAL ONCOLOGY IN THE FIELD OF INTERNAL MEDICINE AND EDUCATION FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS

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Abstract

An oncologist is a physician with advanced training, experience and education that provides him with the skills necessary to examine, diagnose and manage or treat cancerous tumors. The medical oncologist stands at the crossroads of not only multidisciplinary medical teams but also modern molecular biology and medical practice and often serves as the final common pathway for the application of novel cancer research to patients. The treatment of cancer is essentially multidisciplinary, requiring consultation with knowledgeable colleagues in related subspecialties. The medical oncologist is often involved in the final decisions concerning management and is frequently the final common pathway through which decisions are adequately implemented. Medical oncologists must recognize their interest and continuing role in the management of patients with multisystem disease and communicate with them effectively. The medical treatment of cancer patients should be based on a clear understanding of the mechanism of drug action, potential for harmful side-effects, mechanisms of drug resistance and the principles of therapeutics. There is a tremendous amount of research being conducted on all frontiers of oncology, ranging from cancer cell biology to chemotherapy treatment regimens and optimal palliative care and pain relief. Medical oncologists are also responsible to address end-of-life planning with the patients and the family. This makes oncology a continuously changing field. A career as an oncologist requires a great deal of personal sacrifice. The years of schooling, residency and advanced training may require oncologists to have minimal amounts of personal time. Working closely with patients can encourage familial feelings that may ease any sense of lacking. Most medical oncology training takes place in combined hematology and oncology training programs in the United States. These programs focus on solid tumors, malignant hematology and benign hematology. Completing a combined hematology oncology training program positions them to take both the medical oncology and hematology board examinations. We should provide education as much as necessary to medical students and encourage residents who want to become medical oncologists in our country as well.

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