Treatment Specialists for Advanced Breast Cancer

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: March 2024 | Last updated: March 2024

People with advanced breast cancer may have a care team of doctors and other specialists. A care team can combine people with many different jobs. They will work together to help you manage your condition. They can also help make sure your quality of life stays as good as possible. The exact people on your care team can depend on your treatment, symptoms, and side effects.1,2


An oncologist is the name of the type of doctor who treats cancer. Different types of oncologists might help treat advanced breast cancer. These include:1-3

  • Medical oncologists specialize in treating cancer with medicines. When dealing with cancer, medical treatment generally refers to chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or targeted therapy. A medical oncologist oversees your care from diagnosis to treatment. They can help you manage your symptoms as well as side effects from treatment.
  • Radiation oncologists specialize in treating cancer with radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells.
  • Surgical oncologists specialize in treating cancer with surgery. This might include a biopsy, lumpectomy, or mastectomy.

You may also have an oncology nurse, oncology nurse practitioner (NP), or oncology physician assistant (PA). This is a nurse, NP, or PA who specializes in treating cancer. Depending on their exact role on your care team, they may give physical exams, prescribe or administer chemotherapy drugs, or help explain treatment to you.1

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Other doctors who help treat advanced breast cancer

Not every doctor on your care team will be directly involved in treating the cancer. There are other roles that some doctors might fill. These include:1,2,4

  • Pathologists are doctors who specialize in examining cell, tissue, and organ samples. You may never meet your pathologist. But they can be responsible for examining any samples and making your diagnosis.
  • Plastic surgeons may perform special procedures to rebuild your breasts after surgery. The goal is to restore a look to your breasts that you are happy with. This might be adjusting shape, symmetry, or size.
  • Palliative care doctors focus on your overall well-being. Palliative care doctors work with other doctors to manage the side effects of treatment and symptoms of cancer, like pain. This is also called supportive care.

Other types of specialists

Other types of specialists can help you manage your symptoms. These might include:1,2,5

  • Registered dietitians and registered dietitian nutritionists help you meet your nutritional needs. They may be able to help make diet plans that can help manage side effects such as weight change or mouth sores.
  • Genetic counselors help you understand cancers that are passed down in families (inherited). Knowing the genetics of your cancer can help your doctors plan your treatment. It may also give information on your family member’s risk of developing certain cancers.
  • Therapists help you with how well you can function as things change with your body and during treatment. There are various types of therapists, including physical, occupational, and rehabilitation therapists. An example of how therapists can help is supporting you to get back your strength or range of motion after surgery.
  • Oncology social workers are licensed to help people with cancer. They help with practical concerns like finding resources and financial assistance. They can also provide emotional support.
  • Mental healthcare specialists can help you manage the emotional toll of advanced breast cancer. These might include psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, or peer navigators. Some people with advanced breast cancer may also want spiritual support from a chaplain.