Today’s cancer patient has a team of experts with a broad range of treatments available to them. McLeod Cancer Specialist Donny Huynh, MD, explains the many options.

Here’s an overview of Dr. Huynh’s comments:

Cancer care has taken on a multidisciplinary approach involving three major areas: medical, surgical and radiation.

All the specialists play a very important role in cancer care. For example, a surgical oncologist removes the tumor and surrounding tissue. They may also perform a biopsy to help with the cancer diagnosis. A radiation oncologist uses radiation therapy to treat the cancer, which is a more localized therapy in order to help reduce some of the unwanted side effects. Medical oncologists, such as myself, use chemotherapy to treat cancer along with some of the other medications, such as targeted therapy or immunotherapy.

Over the past few decades, there has been remarkable progress within the medical oncology community, mainly because we now have more tools to help combat cancer. Targeted therapy aims at a specific gene or protein. In doing so, this drug helps stop a cancer from growing or spreading. Targeted therapy can be used alone or in combination with other types of treatment, including chemotherapy. In addition to that, we also have immunotherapy, which is more of a biologic approach to boost the body’s natural defense system, helping the immune system work better at killing cancer cells and boosting function of the immune system.

So, for our specialty in hematology/oncology, we’re usually involved with the work up, the diagnosis, and the staging or a patient with cancer. We work with our colleagues to formulate treatment plans. And we also are often responsible for the surveillance, which is following up of this patient for five years. That way we can monitor to see if their cancer or blood disorder reoccurs. And if that happens, we’ll make plans to treat them accordingly.

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