Who is on the chronic disease team?
Different chronic diseases require different healthcare team members. For example, a patient with cancer may see a primary care provider, a medical oncologist, oncology nurse and radiologist. Many others may also be involved in their care.
- Medical Oncologists specialize in medications that treat and manage cancer. These medications include chemotherapy to kill cancer cells, painkillers to manage cancer pain, and other medications that eliminate or reduce the side effects of cancer treatment.
- Oncology Nurses specialize in caring for cancer patients. They work closely with patients to help them understand their disease, receive chemotherapy, and manage their symptoms and side effects.
- Oncology Pharmacists are experts on cancer drugs and provide information about cancer rugs and their side effects.
- Pathologists diagnose diseases by examining body tissues or fluids. Subspecialties in pathology include chemical pathology, forensic pathology, hematology pathology and neuropathology.
- Radiation Oncologists use radiation therapy to manage cancer and other diseases. They decide on the type, dose, number or length of radiation treatments.
The image below shows cancer treatment specialists and when they help in the treatment process.
- Certified Diabetes Educators provide education in diabetes management and help patients prevent or control diabetes.
- Dentists support oral health and treat problems of the mouth and teeth. (Patients with diabetes are at greater risk for gum disease because the excess blood sugar levels in the mouth makes a good home for bacteria, which can lead to an infection.)
- Opthalmologists/Optomotrists (Eye doctors) specialize in treating problems of the eyes and in correcting vision. Diabetes can affect the blood vessels in the eyes (and can sometimes lead to blindness). Patients with diabetes need regular eye exams.
- Podiatrists treat problems of the foot, prescribe corrective devices, medication, or recommend physical therapy. Some podiatrists perform various types of foot surgery.
- Registered Dieticians provide information about nutrition and advise patients about their diet.
- Rehabilitation Specialists help patients who have lost mobility or function because of a stroke or serious injury. They help patients restore body functioning with hands-on treatment, exercise and education.
- Surgeons are sometimes needed to perform amputations for patients with diabetes.
The image below shows diabetes treatment specialists and when they help in the treatment process.
Heart and Pulmonary Disease Specialists
- Cardiologists specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases of the heart, lungs and blood vessels.
- Cardiac Surgeons repair heart conditions such as coronary artery disease and congenital heart disease. Many cardiac surgeons specialize in surgeries that have smaller incisions, shorter recovery times and higher levels of patient safety and comfort.
- Pulmonologists are doctors who specialize in pulmonary medicine. They treat diseases of the respiratory system such as emphysema, asthma, cancer, pneumonia, bronchitis, and other disorders.
- Physical Therapists help patients recover from a stroke or serious injury. They help patients restore the functioning of their body through hands-on treatment, exercise and education.
- Thoracic Surgeons perform surgery on the heart, lungs and esophagus. Thoracic surgeons treat patients with lung cancer, coronary diseases, aneurysms and heart diseases.
- Vascular Surgeons focus is on surgical solutions to diseases of the body’s blood vessels, including the heart and lymph systems. Vascular surgeons treat patients for lymphatic diseases, strokes, aneurysms, varicose veins and other conditions.
The image below shows heart disease and pulmonary treatment specialists and when they help in the treatment process.
Who can help Jane?
Jane was diagnosed with breast cancer six months ago. She is finishing treatment but still suffering from many side effects including arm pain from the surgery, fatigue from the chemotherapy and skin irritation from the radiation. Jane is at risk of losing her job because she has missed so much work for treatment and she needs to work to pay her medical bills. Her boss and friends expect her to be back to normal now that she is done with treatment, but she is frustrated because she does not feel like “herself.” Her oncologist wants her to come back for her follow-up mammogram. Her primary care doctor has given her a routine physical and everything checks out okay.