What is a Medical Oncologist?


In South Africa different medical specialities are involved in cancer care. Medical Oncology is a sub-speciality of Internal Medicine. The first independent Medical Oncology department in Africa was established by the University of Pretoria in 1966 under the leadership of Prof. Geoffrey Falkson. There are two Medical Oncology Departments in South Africa, at the University of Pretoria and the University of the Witwatersrand.

Once qualified as a doctor, a Medical Oncologist first specialises in Internal Medicine, and then further sub-specialises in Medical Oncology. It therefore takes at least 15 years to qualify as a Medical Oncologist in South Africa.

The field of Medical Oncology involves the treatment of cancer with medicines such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and hormonal therapies. It includes the treatment of solid and haematological (blood and bone marrow) cancers, but does not include radiation treatment or surgery. Where radiation is required, we work in collaboration with specialist Radiation Oncologists De Muelenaere oncology. The other sub-speciality involved in oncology is Haematology, also a sub-speciality of Internal Medicine. Other specialists involved in cancer treatment are Clinical Haematologists, Clinical Oncologists, and Radiation Oncologists.

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