Oncology is the area of medicine involving cancer. An oncologist is a doctor specialising in the treatment of cancer either with chemotherapy (medical oncologist) or radiation (radiation oncologist). Other doctors are involved in the treatment of cancer such as haematologists (doctors who specialise in cancer and other diseases of the blood), surgeons, palliative care specialists (doctors who specialise in the treatment of symptoms from cancer that cannot be cured) and general physicians (who often are involved in the diagnosis of cancer). If you have cancer you are likely to be referred to some of these doctors depending on the type of treatment that is advised. The Cancer & Blood Service also consists of specialised nurses, therapists and social workers as the diagnosis of cancer can affect people and their families in many ways. The Cancer & Blood Service also works alongside hospices and the Cancer Society www.cancernz.org.nz who provide support to people with the diagnosis of cancer.
What is Cancer?
Everyone’s body is made up of millions of cells, which normally grow, divide and are renewed in a balanced or programmed way. Sometimes this process is disrupted and the cells grow in an uncontrolled way – a solid group of these cells is called a tumour. Another word commonly used for tumour is growth and it can mean the same thing.
A tumour/growth can be benign (grows but will not spread into different parts of the body) or malignant (spreads into different parts of the body as well as grows locally). Tumours spread by cells travelling through the lymphatic system (the body’s cleaning system) to lymph nodes (often known as glands) or through blood to other organs in the body. These cells can then multiply. If this happens the cancer is called metastatic. Cancer isn't contagious, so you can go on being close to family and friends.
Hauora Tairāwhiti Services:
A Clinical Nurse Coordinator will work with people referred with a high suspicion of cancer to coordinate their journey through diagnostic tests, specialist appointments and tertiary travel to diagnosis and first treatment.
Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) includes liaison between Waikato and Gisborne Hospitals and care of the patients in the community. This service is responsible for organising the monthly oncology outpatient clinic and provides information, advocacy and ongoing support and management relating to chemotherapy and /or radiotherapy.
We have a Oncology Nurse Practitioner, four Cancer Nurse Coordinators, two Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialists, a social worker, a Cancer Psychologist and Medical Day Unit Registered Nurses. Visiting Medical Oncologists are Dr Archana Srivastava and Dr Michael Jameson and visiting Radiation Oncologists are Dr Ziad Thotathil and Dr Deborah Whalley.
Exams and procedures:
The nurse led Medical Day Unit delivers chemotherapy treatment to people with cancer and in addition the nurses assist in coordination of visiting oncology and haematology clinics. The MDU nurses also provide care for people with portacaths and those requiring medical treatments such as blood transfusions, iron infusions and other intravenous medications.