Oncology is a branch of medicine that deals with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. A medical professional who practices oncology is an oncologist.[1] The name's etymological origin is the Greek word ὄγκος (óngkos), meaning 1. "burden, volume, mass" and 2. "barb", and the Greek word λόγος (logos), meaning "study".[2] The neoclassical term oncology was used from 1618, initially in neo-Greek, in cognizance of Galen's work on abnormal tumors, De tumoribus præter naturam (Περὶ τῶν παρὰ φύσιν ὄγκων).[3]

A coronal CT scan showing a malignant mesothelioma, indicated by the asterisk and the arrows
FocusCancerous tumor
SubdivisionsMedical oncology, radiation oncology, surgical oncology
Significant testsTumor markers, TNM staging, CT scans, MRI
  • Physician
Occupation type
Activity sectors
Education required
Fields of
Hospitals, Clinics

Cancer survival has improved due to three main components: improved prevention efforts to reduce exposure to risk factors (e.g., tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption),[4] improved screening of several cancers (allowing for earlier diagnosis),[5] and improvements in treatment.[6][7]

Cancers are often managed through discussion on multi-disciplinary cancer conferences[8] where medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, and organ-specific oncologists meet to find the best possible management for an individual patient considering the physical, social, psychological, emotional, and financial status of the patient.[9] It is very important for oncologists to keep up-to-date with the latest advancements in oncology, as changes in the management of cancer are quite common.

Because a cancer diagnosis can cause distress and anxiety,[10] clinicians may use a number of strategies such as SPIKES[11] for delivering the bad news.[12]