Once a diagnosis of cancer has been made, you will probably talk with your primary care physician along with several cancer specialists, such as a surgeon, a medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist. You will want to ask these doctors about all your treatment options.
In many cases, your cancer will need to be treated by using more than one type of treatment. For example, if you have bladder cancer, an alternative to removing the entire bladder (cystectomy) is a surgical procedure by a urologist to remove as much tumor as possible followed by radiation therapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells in or near your bladder (by a radiation oncologist). You also might receive chemotherapy (by a medical oncologist) delivered concurrently with radiation therapy to destroy cancer cells that may have traveled to other parts of the body and to make the radiation therapy even more effective. Some patients who plan to have full removal of the bladder may benefit from chemotherapy before surgery. After reviewing your medical record including imaging, as well as completing a thorough patient history and physical examination, your radiation oncologist will discuss with you the potential benefits and risks of radiation therapy and answer your questions. For a list of questions that you may want to ask, please see the section Questions to Ask Your Doctor.