Seeing a medical oncologist is a cancer patient’s first stop after diagnosis

Updated: May. 2, 2023 at 6:00 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - After a cancer diagnosis, a patient more often than not will go see a medical oncologist.

“Medical oncology encompasses the kind of comprehensive cancer care that a patient may experience throughout their cancer journey,” Marshfield Medical Center-Eau Claire nurse practitioner Taylor Effertz said.

Effertz says medical oncology includes early detection, prevention, and treatment.

“The medical oncologist would pull all the pieces together to create a big picture on what we’re dealing with,” Effertz said. “So that would be diagnosing that cancer, determining the stage of the cancer, and then formulating a treatment plan and that really is individualized to the type of cancer, the patient, their goals.”

She stresses the importance of preventative and primary care.

“Having a good relationship with your primary care provider, making sure that you’re up to date on all of your routine screenings, including things like a mammogram, colonoscopy, skin checks,” Effertz said. “Prevention with things like HPV vaccine, a healthy diet, living, an active lifestyle to help prevent cancer.”

Effertz adds keeping up with routine screenings can help catch cancer in a more treatable stage.

“Once it’s progressed to an incurable or stage four estate, then it’s more about maintaining and controlling the disease, but with early detection, we can really fight to cure the disease,” Effertz said.

Effertz says medical oncology takes teamwork, including the hospital she works at.

“There are four medical oncologists and here they have over 90 years of combined experience and there are four advanced practice clinicians, including three nurse practitioners and a physician assistant, to help support the team,” Effertz said.

For someone who received a cancer diagnosis, Efferz offers this piece of advice.

“Take it one step at a time,” Effertz said. “It can be overwhelming to bite off everything all at once, to try and absorb everything all at once. We really work to kind of deal with things not as they come.”

Over the next two months, Buddy Check 13 will cover the topics of surgical and radiation oncology.