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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.

Overall medical care

Physicians (MD): The person in charge of the medical team. Their white coat is the longest of any medical professional. MDs hae 3 to 7 yeras of training after medical school.

There are a variety of doctors:

  • Primary physician (MD):
    • Your personal overall doctor. He or she may be a general practitioner, an internist, gynecologist or family practice doctor.
    • This doctor discusses your diagnosis with you and may be in charge of coordinating your treatment. Usually a primary care physician sends you to an specialist such as an oncologist (a cancer doctor).
  • Specialist: 
    • A doctor who with additional education and training who specializes in a particular area of medicine. For example, an oncologist specializes in cancer (oncology).
    • There may be a variety of divisions within a speciality. For instance, with cancer there is a:
      • Medical oncologist: The medical doctor who is usually in charge of your cancer. The medical oncologist prescribes treatment and refers you to other specialists. He or she also keeps in touch with other members of your medical team.
      • Radiation oncologist: Specializes in radiation treatment
      • Surgical oncologist: Specializes in surgery relating to cancer

Pathologist: A medical doctor who examines tissue samples removed during a surgical procedure. A pathologist is trained to look at cells under a microscope and identify diseases. A pathologist determines the type and stage of cancer. He or she issues a report known as a "pathology report." The pathology report describes the type of cancer and stage.


  • Registered nurse (RN): A nurse with an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing who has passed a state licensing exam. A RN can monitor your condition, provide treatment, educate you about side effects, and help you adjust physically and emotionally to cancer.

  • Nurse practitioner (NP): A Registered Nurse with a master's or doctoral degree plus advanced clinical training. A nurse practitioner can diagnose and manage cancer. In many states, a nurse practitioner can prescribe drugs.  IIt also depends on the state whether a nurse practitioner can practice wtihout supervision from physicians. 

  • Oncology-certified nurse: A nurse with a master's degree in oncology.

Physician Assistant (PA): An assistant to the doctor who takes care of routine matters such as taking your blood pressure or telling you about your condition or a proposed treatment.

Office Manager: The person who manages your doctor's office. He or she is the "go to" person for practical information, to help get an appointment when the doctor is fully booked or a doctor to whom you have been referred doesn't have a reasonably immediate time to see you. The office manager usually has information about your disease, or can point you in the direction of finding that information.

Social Worker: A health specialist with a degree in social work, generally licensed or certified by the state. A social worker coordinates and provides nonmedical care, including help dealing with a variety of emotional and practical problems (such as child care, finances, family and relationship concerns).

Medical Student: A doctor in training. Usually wears a hip-length white coat. He or she can take a medical history, but the prescribing of medications or diagnostic tests needs approval from a supervising doctor.

Professionals You May Meet If You Undergo Radiation Treatment

Radiation Oncologist: A doctor who specializes in treating cancer with radiation. The doctor will help you make decisions about radiation therapy, determine what kind and how much radiation you should receive, and evaluate you during treatment and afterward.

Radiation Therapy Technologist: A person who assists the radiation oncologist during treatment.

Medical or Radiation Physicist: An expert trained in ensuring the right dose of radiation treatment is delivered. The physicist in turn is helped by a technician known as a dosimetry, who helps plan and calculate the dosage, number and length of your radiation treatment.

Radiation therapy technologist (also known as a Radiology Technologist): A technician who works with the equipment that delivers radiation therapy. This person will position you before radiation and then administer the radiation therapy.

Radiologist: A doctor who interprets the results of imaging procedures and issues your doctor a report with his or her findings. The radiologist is assisted by a Radiation therapy technologist who positions you for x-rays and mammograms and develops and checks images for quality.

Professionals You May Meet If You Undergo Surgery

Surgeon: A doctor who performs surgery..

Surgical Oncologist: A surgeon who specializes in using surgery to diagnose and treat cancer. The surgeon will determine the location of your tumor, and then remove it together with surrounding tissue. The surgeon will issue a report for your personal physician , your medical oncologist and/or radiation oncologist. The report will be used to help determine future treatment.

Plastic surgeon/reconstructive surgeon: A doctor who specializes in performing operations to restore the appearance of parts of the body affected by your disease or treatment. Note: If you have breast cancer, reconstruction surgery can be performed either during or after a mastectomy.

Anesthesiologist: The medical doctor who administers anesthesia to put you to sleep or to prevent or relieve pain during and after a surgical procedure. The anesthesiologist also monitors your vital signs during surgery.

Physical therapist/physiotherapist: A trained health specialist who helps with post-surgical rehabilitation, usually by teaching you exercises and other stretching and strengthening techniques. A therapist may also administer massage or heat to restore or maintain your body’s strength, function and flexibility.