SolveYourProblem Article Series: Cancer
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Cancer Medical Specialists and Their Jobs : Part 2

Personal or Primary Care Physician: A personal physician may be a general doctor, internist, or family practice doctor. He or she is often the medical doctor who may have performed your initial PSA tests and DREs or who may have discovered signs of prostate cancer. This general or family practice doctor may be a member of your medical team, but a specialist in prostate cancer is most often a patient's cancer care team leader.

Psychologist or Psychiatrist: A psychologist is a licensed mental health professional who is often part of the medical team. He or she provides counseling on emotional and psychological issues. A psychologist may have specialized training and experience treating people with cancer. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor specializing in mental health and behavioral disorders. Psychiatrists provide counseling and can also prescribe medications.

Radiation Oncologist: A radiation oncologist is a medical doctor who specializes in treating cancer using therapeutic radiation (high-energy x-rays or seeds). If you choose radiation, this member of your medical team evaluates you frequently during the course of treatment and at intervals afterward. The radiation oncologist will usually work closely with your urologist. He or she helps you make decisions about radiation therapy options.

A radiation oncologist is assisted by a radiation therapist during treatment and works with a radiation physicist, an expert who is trained in ensuring that the right dose of radiation treatment is delivered to you. The physicist is also assisted by a dosimetrist, a technician who helps plan and calculate the dosage, number, and length of your radiation treatments.

Radiation Therapist: A radiation therapist is a specially trained technician who works with the equipment that delivers radiation therapy He or she positions your body during the treatment and administers the radiation therapy.

Radiologist: A radiologist is a medical doctor specializing in the use of imaging procedures that produce pictures of internal body structures. He or she has special training in diagnosing prostate cancer and other diseases and interpreting the results of imaging procedures. Your radiologist issues a radiology report describing the findings to your urologist, medical oncologist, or radiation oncologist.

The radiology images and report may be used to aid in diagnosis, to help classify and determine the extent of your prostate cancer, to help locate tumors during surgery and radiation treatment, or to look for the possible spread or recurrence of the cancer after treatment.

Radiology Technologist: A radiology technologist is a trained health care professional who assists the radiologist by positioning your body for x-rays and other procedures and developing and checking the images for quality. The radiologist then reads these images.

Social Worker: A social worker is a health specialist, usually with a master's degree, who is usually licensed or certified by the state in which he or she works. A social worker is an expert in coordinating and providing social services. He or she is trained to help you and your family deal with a range of emotional and practical challenges, such as finances, child care, emotional issues, family concerns and relationships, transportation, and problems with the health care system.

If your social worker is trained in cancer-related problems, he or she can counsel you about your fears or concerns, help answer questions about diagnosis and treatment, and lead cancer support groups. You may communicate with your social worker during a hospital stay or on an outpatient basis.

Urologist: A urologist is a physician who has specialized knowledge and skill regarding problems of the urinary tract and male reproductive organs. Seek out a urologist who specializes in urologic oncology, specifically of the prostate. Some urologist focus on using diagnostic procedures to determine the location or extent of your prostate cancer. Others may specialize in surgery to remove tumors and, if necessary, surrounding tissue. Your urologist will work closely with surgical nurses, your anesthesiologist, medical oncologist (if part of your team), and radiation oncologist. He or she will issue a surgical report.

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