When you are diagnosed with osteosarcoma (OS), you will often see many different types of doctors in a very short period of time. We understand this may be confusing especially when you’ve just been diagnosed with OS and don’t know where to start. In this blog we break down the types of healthcare workers you may come across and when you would see them.
It is important to remember you might not need to see all the different types of healthcare workers on this list. Who you see will depend on the symptoms you have and your healthcare system.
The Multidisciplinary Team
When diagnosed with OS you will normally be referred to a sarcoma specialist centre. At this centre, there will be a team of experts who will discuss your case and ensure you get the treatment which is right for you. This team is often called a multidisciplinary team (MDT) because it is made up of many different types of healthcare workers. Each will bring their own expertise to help create a clear treatment plan.
A doctor who specialises in cancer.
Oncologists are doctors that are highly trained in treating cancer. They will advise on the best medical treatment including chemotherapy drugs and radiotherapy regimes. They will monitor you for side effects throughout your treatment and give advice on ways to reduce them. They will also continue to monitor you after you’ve finished treatment to make sure that OS does not return and catch it quickly if it does.
A doctor who specialises in treating bone-related conditions.
An orthopaedic surgeon is a doctor who specialises in bone surgery. They will provide advice on the best operation to remove your OS and perform the surgery. They will usually first see you before the surgery to explain the operation and answer any of your questions.
Anaesthesia is given to an individual for surgery and other medical procedures so they can be carried out safely and without pain. An anaesthetist is trained to provide anaesthesia and they will monitor you throughout the surgery.
Sarcoma Clinical Nurse Specialist
The Sarcoma Clinical Nurse Specialists are normally your first point of contact during your treatment journey. They will be available to answer your questions and address any concerns you may have. You will usually have a direct telephone number to reach them and will be able to contact them even after treatment has finished.
A pathologist is a doctor who will examine cancer biopsies and can help in the diagnosis of OS. You will not normally see a pathologist.
A radiologist is a doctor trained to analyse scans. They will write a report of their findings and send this to the relevant doctor to give you the results. You will not normally see a radiologist. You can find out more about the different types of scans in our scan toolkit.
A radiographer is the person who carries out the scan. They will be the person who you see when you get a scan and will take you through the process.
Therapeutic Radiographers are trained to give radiotherapy, which is a type of cancer treatment that usually uses x-rays to kill cancer cells. They will be there to take you through the process.
A physiotherapist is a person who helps with movement and strengthening of muscles. They often play a key part in your recovery after treatment.
An occupational therapist is someone who ensures that your needs are met when you are discharged from the hospital to your home. That can include making small modifications in the house or providing equipment to make you more comfortable.
Psychologist or Counsellor
There are a range of people who provide mental health support for you and your family during and after treatment. Our support groups page includes information on charities that offer support services. You can also contact your Sarcoma Clinical Nurse Specialist who should be able to recommend support services.