Introduction to Clinical Oncology
Careers in Oncology

Careers in Oncology




What do you think of when you imagine a career in oncology?


What do you imagine to be the most difficult aspects of working in oncology?

The most rewarding?


Have you considered working in oncology as part of your practice? Why?

Why not?



At first pass many people think oncology is depressing. [1]

There are many ways to be involved with cancer care. All family physicians are involved with prevention, screening and early detection and will care for patients with cancer concurrently with oncologists during active treatment and as the primary provider after treatment and at the end of life.  There are many was to specialize in cancer care:

  • medical oncology

  • radiation oncology

  • surgical oncology

  • gynecology oncology


What makes someone choose oncology?

There are probably as many reasons as there are oncologists but a few reasons might be:

  • personal experience with cancer, raising awareness and interest

  • scientific interest, research background or desire to have an academic/research based practice

  • nature of relationship with patient - intense, involves individual and family and opportunity to make a big difference for people

  • technical aspects of oncology (procedures, radiation...)

All oncologists are involved with patient care.


It’s not all bad news :

  • there is the opportunity to make a difference for people with curative and palliative treatment.

  • scientific and technological advancements (cancer biology, molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, diagnostic imaging, pharmacology)

  • dynamic field - evolving constantly

  • diverse practice - within oncology and day to day in chosen area

  • interprofessional teams

  • meaningful patient relationships

  • personal satisfaction


There are companion modules exploring some of these career paths in more depth.  At present we do not have a module on gynecological oncology a specialty focusing on the management of female genital tract cancers.  Gyne Onc is a subspecialty of gynecology:

  1. 4 years of Obstetrics and Gynecology

  2. 2 years of specialty training




1. This section builds on a presentation by Dr. Nawaid Usmani, March 2003, when he was a PGY2 in Radiation Oncology at Queen's University.

All references for this section