Oncology is the field of medicine concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer. Treatment options include radiation therapy, drug therapy, palliative measures to relieve or reduce symptomatic conditions, and surgery. Oncology sub-specialities include hematology, or cancers of the blood; radiation oncology, medical oncology, surgical oncology, paediatric oncology; and gynaecologic oncology. Many oncologists also work in academia. Teams of oncologists offering cross-speciality care often treat patients.
Education and training
Oncologists must obtain an undergraduate degree, followed by four years of medical school. Residency training takes two to four years, depending on the speciality chosen, and further training in the form of fellowships may provide further specialisation training.
Oncologists specialising in hematology treat cancers of the blood, bone marrow and immune system. Blood tests and radiological methods typically are used in diagnosis. Other oncology specialists, such as medical, paediatric and gynaecological oncologists, also are trained in hematology oncology as a diagnostic tool.
According to a leading salary website, the median salary for a U.S. hematologist-oncologist is £167,645, with a middle 50th percentile range of £137,960 to £218,520 a year. The bottom 10th percentile median salary is £116,780 and the top 10th percentile median figure is £264,830. Student Doc reports a low salary of £117,875, an average salary of £159,250 and a highest-reported salary of £445,250. A 2006 Allied Physician survey shows a pay progression of £117,875 for hematologists-oncologists during their first two years of practice, £159,250 after three years and a maximum salary of £445,250.
Gynaecologic oncologists receive fellowship training through programs approved by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and treat conditions such as ovarian and uterine cancer. The Physician Compensation Survey conducted by the American Medical Group Association reports a median salary of £268,775 for gynaecologic oncologists. The Indeed website reports a much lower national average salary of £165,100, with a sharp rise in salaries since April 2009 of about 140 per cent.
Medical oncologists often serve as a patient’s first-line cancer doctor, diagnosing conditions such as breast cancer and lung caner and then either treating the patient or making referrals to other specialists for treatment. Medical oncologists earned a median salary of £208,590, according to the Physician Compensation Survey. The CB Salary reports an average salary of £196,655. The Allied Physicians survey shows a salary of £128,700 during the first two years of practice, £167,050 after three years and a maximum salary of £295,750.
Radiation oncologists treat cancer through the use of radiation, usually through interventional techniques that introduce tubes into the body’s arteries and veins to administer medications into the blood. These medications target diseased organs and are used in conjunction with radiation or electromagnetic treatments.
Radiation oncologists, or therapists, earn a median salary of £290,710, according to the Physician Compensation Survey and interventional radiologists make £310,700 a year. SalaryQuest.com reports a much lower average salary of £152,230, with a maximum salary of £292,500. Radiation oncologists make £156,650 during their first two years, according to the Allied Physician survey, with an average salary of £250,250 after three years and a high-end figure of £511,550.
The Physician Compensation Survey lists a median salary of £138,175 for a paediatric oncologist. The Allied Physician survey reports an average salary of £118,300 for a paediatric oncologist’s first two years of practice, £141,050 after three years and a top-end salary of £163,150.
Oncology faculty and administrators at colleges and universities can make salaries similar or even higher than practicing physicians. For example, the chairman of radiation oncology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas earns a salary of £307,970, according to the Texas Tribune.
Assistant professors and professors make salaries ranging from £81,250 to £245,700. Similar salaries are reported for gynaecologic oncology faculty at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where the chair makes £377,135 a year and professor salaries range from £160,230 to £280,810.