Medical oncologist

What they do

Oncologists are physicians who manage patients with cancer.

Cancer is a term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade nearby tissues. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.

Oncologists diagnose and assess stages of cancer, recommend and implement appropriate treatment plans and continually monitor progress.

There are approximately 25 oncologists in Western Australia all of who are based in Perth.

Working conditions

Most oncologists start their careers in hospitals and clinics, eventually moving into private practice.

Oncologists usually work long hours and at times are on call.

Oncology work can be emotionally draining as a lot of time is spent dealing with patients who have a serious disease - frequent time-out is a must.

Tools and technologies

Oncologists are expected to be familiar with a variety of medical equipment and instruments associated with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other cancer treatment.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a medical oncologist, you must first become a qualified medical practitioner and then specialise in oncology.

To become a medical practitioner, you need to study a degree in medicine. Alternatively, you can study a degree in any discipline followed by a postgraduate degree in medicine.

Some universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

To specialise in medical oncology, doctors can apply to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) to undertake further training and ultimately receive fellowship.

To be eligible for this specialist training, on completion of your medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for a minimum of two years (internship and residency).

Required registration and licensing

To work as a medical oncologist in Western Australia, you will need to obtain registration from the Medical Board of Australia.