5 Differences Between Oncologists and Pathologists

5 Differences Between Oncologists and Pathologists

Oncologists and pathologists are all physicians linked by one common disease, which is cancer. They are both involved in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. The two specialties are similar, but there is a thin line between the two. Both specialties are involved in taking care of patients. Let us brush over some of the significant differences between oncologists and pathologists.

1. Nature of operation

Oncologists see patients and are usually trained in internal medicine. They typically examine patients directly to start treatment of cancer. On the other hand, pathologists do not see the patients directly; instead, their task is to examine the sample of tissues and body fluids collected in the laboratory. After reviewing the tissues, they can come up with an exclusive report informing the physician of the possible problem. They hardly come into direct contact with the patient, although they are instrumental in diagnosing cancer.

2. Specialization

Oncologists are specialists in the treatment of cancer. They can recommend different treatment options that include radiation, surgical and chemotherapy depending on the cancer stage. Additionally, oncologists specialize in the discipline that can specialize in children, women, or treating certain cancers like blood cancer.

On the other hand, pathologists are mainly involved in diagnosing the disease. They work in the laboratory using the microscope to examine the body fluids and blood tissues collected from patients. Thus, they are not specific in cancer alone, but a more comprehensive range of diseases that patients may be suffering. In addition, they may choose to specialize in various fields such as genetic disorders, biochemistry, microbiology, and the blood bank, ensuring a facility has enough blood.

3. Education and training

Both the oncologists and pathologists must complete four years in medical school and residency. The significant difference is that oncologists are usually in specialized rotations such as medical oncology, diagnostic imaging, and laboratory clinic research. On the other hand, pathologists during their study are taught cytopathology and perform the autopsy, surgical pathology, and clinical pathology.

4. Remuneration and salary

According to studies, it shows that oncologists’ salary is slightly higher as opposed to pathologists. They earn somewhere between $222,000 to $300,000. In comparison, the pathologists earn about $150,000, according to the American Society for Clinical Pathology. Thus, the oncologists seem to earn higher when compared to the pathologists’ counterparts.

5. Connection level to patients

Oncologists walk through the whole journey with patients when the first visit to the medical facility to the last stages. Oncologists are deeply connected with the patient’s cancer recommending treatment options and ultimately following to see if it was effective. Sometimes they even walk the journey to the last stage, which is death for those cancer patients whose disease has progressed and no form of medical intervention will work out. Pathologists work behind the scenes. At no point do they come into physical contact with patients. They are mainly charged with the diagnostic of a particular illness and, from that point, no more involvement with the patients.

Final thoughts

The oncologists and pathologists are similar, but there are critical differences according to the role of each individual. Pathologists are instrumental in the diagnostic of all kinds of diseases, not only cancer. Oncologists’ primary responsibility is to treat cancer through various treatment options. An oncologist will not treat without the analysis of the pathologist. We have been able to highlight some of the significant differences between the two.

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