Each member of your team has a different role to play, providing surgical, medical, practical, or emotional help. Together your team will help you receive the best possible care.
Below we’ve listed some of the people who might be in your healthcare team:1–3
An oncologist is a specialist doctor who treats and provides medical care for people who’ve been diagnosed with cancers.
Your oncologist will be able to answer any questions you have about your diagnosis, treatment, or side effects.
A CNS offers specialist cancer information and support to people with cancer and their families.
You can usually contact your CNS directly to ask any questions related to your treatment or for extra support.
A GP can refer people with cancer (or suspected cancer) to specialists and is usually the first point of contact when you notice any symptoms.
They will help look after your general health while you are undergoing cancer treatment, so they should always be aware of any treatments your oncologist or clinical nurse specialist has prescribed you.
A pharmacist provides prescriptions to people with cancer and gives advice on taking treatment and noticing side effects.
Your pharmacist will be able to answer any questions you have about your treatment, dosing, or side effects.
A pathologist studies body fluids, cells, and tissues to identify cancer. If you have a biopsy, your pathologist will study the sample taken to diagnose or monitor your cancer.
Learn more about biopsies here
A radiologist performs investigations such as CT scans, PET, MRI, and bone scans. These investigations can help diagnose and monitor any progression, or shrinkage, of a cancer.
Learn more about scans here.
A surgical nurse provides care to people with cancer before, during, and after surgical procedures.
You’ll be able to ask your surgical nurse any questions you have relating to a procedure you may be having.
A dietician helps people with cancer to maintain their weight and meet their nutritional requirements.
If you need to follow specific dietary restrictions, your dietician will advise on how to do so safely. You can also ask your dietician for any dietary tips, or recipe ideas.
Learn more about nutrition here.
A physiotherapist helps people with cancer maintain, or regain, their strength and mobility following treatment.
You can ask your physiotherapist for tips on exercise and keeping mobile.
An occupational therapist helps people with cancer live independently, by offering practical and psychological support.
You can ask your occupational therapist for tips on different ways to approach daily tasks and activities that you find difficult.
A psychologist helps people with cancer deal with emotional and personal matters to help them with their mental health.
They will be able to recommend techniques if you are struggling to cope or feeling down.
Student doctors ‘shadow’ more senior members of staff and often attend hospital appointments for training purposes.
Your hospital will usually let you know if there will be student doctors present at your appointment beforehand, and you will always be given the option to say no to having them in your appointments.
Reception and administrative staff provide day-to-day support to the hospital or clinic. They provide a front-of-house reception service, collect and deliver notes, file paperwork, and deal with telephone or face-to-face enquiries.
When you arrive at the hospital, they will usually sign you in on the register and tell you where to go for your appointment.
Oncologists’ secretaries provide day-to-day support for their oncology teams. They carry out administrative tasks, deal with enquiries, create waiting list entries, and manage team case notes.
They will usually be your first point of contact for appointments with your oncologist.
Whether it's speaking to loved ones, employers, or people you don’t know, our discussion guide can help you start those difficult conservations about your diagnosis.