Generally, there are four types of physicians who work together in a multidisciplinary fashion to care for men and women with genitourinary cancer.
Urologists are physicians and surgeons trained to care for men and women afflicted with disorders of the genitourinary tract, both cancerous and non cancerous. In cancerous diseases of the genitourinary system, urologists primarily utilize surgical interventions as treatments.
Pathologists are physicians trained to characterize and identify specimens taken from men and women who either have or may have a medical illness. They study and characterize samples removed from a person’s body such as tissue, blood, or urine. Most specifically for cancer, pathologists study and characterize pieces of tissue removed from the body where abnormal growth has been detected. Not only do they determine whether or not the tissue is cancerous, pathologists can typically identify where the cancer originated and also characterize changes in cancer cells that can help direct treatments, such as determining whether or not a specific drug might work or not as a treatment.
Radiation oncologists are physicians trained to care for men and women afflicted with all types of cancer. They direct treatment utilizing machines or metal pellets that emit charged particles (radiation). There are many different types of charged particles and many different techniques to utilizing radiation. In genitourinary cancers, radiotherapists utilize these treatments to try to cure or control the disease in conjunction with the other treatment modalities.
Medical oncologists are physicians trained to care for men and women afflicted with all types of cancer primarily using non-surgical or radiation treatments. Such treatments include using hormones (a common treatment for prostate cancer), antibodies (proteins which attach to specific types of cancer), drugs which poison cancer cells (chemotherapy), vaccines that try to stimulate the body to attack cancer cells, or chemicals which block steps in how cancers grow in an uncontrolled way. Medical oncologists also study ways to try to prevent cancers and identify individuals who are at higher risks of getting specific cancers. If a man or woman is afflicted with a cancer that cannot potentially be cured with radiation treatments or surgery, medical oncologist usually take over the care — but always in conjunction with the other urologists and radiation oncologists.