At the Stanford Comprehensive Cancer Center, we offer multidisciplinary care. That means your doctors, nurses and other members of your care team work together to support you before, during and after treatment
You will have a care team for each type of treatment you receive. The type of oncologist on your care team will depend on the type of cancer and treatment you have. The types of oncologists include:
- Surgical oncologist: These surgeons specialize in treating cancer through traditional (open) and minimally invasive surgery. Surgical oncologists perform biopsies (taking tiny tissue samples) to test for cancer. They also surgically remove tumors and surrounding tissue.
- Medical oncologist: These cancer doctors have specialized training in diagnosing cancer. They also treat it using medications, including chemotherapy, hormone therapy and biologic therapy (targeted therapy and immunotherapy). Medical oncologists often serve as your main health care provider, coordinating your treatment among several specialists.
- Radiation oncologist: These cancer specialists have subspecialty training in high-energy X-rays and other radiation therapy. Radiation can destroy or prevent the spread of cancer. Using advanced technologies, radiation oncologists can precisely target cancer cells to avoid damaging nearby healthy tissue.
Other doctors on your care team
In Stanford’s team-based approach to cancer care, your oncologist works with other doctors throughout your course of treatment. Every doctor on your team focuses solely on cancer, with subspecialty training in cancer diagnosis and treatment.
An anesthesiologist is a doctor who specializes in using medications to block pain, help you relax, or make you unconscious for surgery. Anesthesiologists also maintain your vital functions such as breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate during surgery. Depending on the type of surgery you have, you may need local (small area), regional (larger area), or general (overall) anesthesia.
This doctor supervises doctors in training or in medical school. Your attending physician may be your surgeon, medical oncologist, o radiation oncologist.
A radiologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating cancer using imaging techniques including X-ray, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Our radiologists have additional training and experience in cancer care. These doctors interpret imaging results and take biopsies (when needed) to help confirm a diagnosis. You may not meet your radiologist, since these doctors usually work behind the scenes to determine your diagnosis.
Working closely with your oncologist, your pathologist performs and reads laboratory tests to determine the type and stage of cancer present. These doctors have special training to detect and diagnose cancer. They use a microscope to examine tissue samples taken during a biopsy. As with radiologists, you may not meet your pathologist.
This type of doctor is doing postgraduate studies specializing in the care of patients with cancer.
This doctor has graduated from medical school and is in training (also called residency) at Stanford. Residents in their first year are also called interns.
Extended care team
Advanced practice provider (APP)
This oncology-certified health care provider works with your oncologist to help with diagnosis and treatment. APPs may recommend medications, lifestyle changes, and services such as genetic counseling. An APP can be a nurse practitioner (NP), physician’s assistant (PA), or clinical nurse specialist (CNS).
Nurse coordinator (RN) or multidisciplinary care coordinator (MCC)
Nurse coordinators are specialized registered nurses who provide one-on-one support to guide you through your cancer journey. MCCs serve as your point of contact to help manage your care, from your first appointment through follow-up visits. They assess your needs, answer your questions, make referrals, coordinate appointments, and provide patient education.
Clinical administrative assistant (CAA)
This team member helps with nonmedical issues such as scheduling your appointments, managing your paperwork, and requesting your medical records.
This health care provider is a student enrolled in Stanford’s medical school who is studying to become a doctor.
Care team and supportive services
Depending on your treatment, additional health professionals may be on your care team. You may meet or hear about these team members during your visits.
A registered nurse will take care of you if you are hospitalized after surgery or need chemotherapy.
These health professionals have specialized experience in cancer genetics, the study of genes and gene mutations and how they affect a person’s risk of cancer. Not everyone may benefit from genetic testing. It is designed for people whose medical history shows the possibility of an inherited gene mutation.
Genetic counselors advise you and your family on identifying and managing any risk of inherited cancer. They work with you and your doctors to perform and review any genetic testing and help you understand the results.
If you are interested in learning more about your cancer, our professional medical librarians can help. We offer free, science-based information on cancer and other health topics at the Stanford Health Library.
If you have apheresis (a specific type of blood transfusion) or chemotherapy, your infusion treatment area (ITA) scheduler will schedule your appointments.
Medical assistant (MA)
This team member helps you during your doctor visits by:
- Bringing you to your exam room after you check in for an appointment
- Providing you with a hospital gown or other clothing for your physical exam
- Taking your vital signs before your doctor sees you
New patient coordinator (NPC)
A staff member calls you before your first appointment to:
- Provide information that you need to know to prepare
- Provides a list of what you need to bring
- Helps gather your medical records
Occupational therapist (OT)
These skilled practitioners provide rehabilitation care to help you regain strength and functional ability during and after treatment for cancer. We help you with activities of daily living such as:
- Bathing or showering
- Dressing and grooming
- Using the restroom
- Feeding yourself
- Managing your medications
Patient access representative (PAS)
This team member greets you at the front desk and registers you for your appointments.
Physical therapist (PT)
Cancer treatment can affect your strength and mobility, especially in the shoulder and arm. Physical therapists work with you and your family to recover your physical function after treatment, such as improving your:
- Strength, especially in the upper body
- Sensation, to relieve numbness in treated areas
- Range of motion, to reduce stiffness and pain
- Movement control, to improve endurance and reduce fatigue
Registered dietitian (RD)
Team members with specialized training and experience in food and nutrition work with you to understand your preferences and needs. RDs provide education about healthy eating and create a personalized diet to keep you healthy before, during, and after treatment.
Social worker (SW)
This health professional works with you and your family to provide emotional support, counseling, and resources such as financial assistance, spiritual counseling, and transportation. A social worker can also connect you with community services and, if you’re coming from out of town, help you find a place to stay.
If you are meeting with a surgical oncologist or reconstruction surgeon or having surgery, a surgery scheduler will call you to arrange the details.
Published September 2019
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