Medical oncology is a subspecialty of internal medicine that is concerned with the study of tumors (when malignant these are known as neoplasms). Medical oncologists specialize in treating cancer. Your oncologist will ultimately determine your medical treatment plan. They will help you decide whether chemotherapy is indicated, and if so, what type of chemotherapy will be most effective; if radiation will play a role in the treatment plan; and whether you are a good candidate for surgery.

In developing your treatment plan, your oncologist will rely heavily on your pathology report. The oncologist will also order extensive testing to determine the stage of the disease – whether it is localized at the primary site (such as the lung or pleura) or has spread (metastasized) to other organs. The information obtained from the staging results, together with pathology results, will enable the oncologist to determine the best course of treatment for the patient.

If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma or lung cancer, your oncologist will probably become the most important member of your medical team. This is especially true if you will be undergoing chemotherapy treatments. The oncologist will have a discussion with you and, more than likely, with your spouse or those closest to you, about your diagnosis, your prognosis, the various treatment options, and what to expect. He or she will oversee your treatments and monitor your progress, coordinate all of your testing and referrals, and keep your primary care physician and other members of your medical team informed.