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Medical Oncology


There are three different categories of oncologists – medical, radiation, and surgical. Each type of physician uses a different tool in the fight against cancer. For radiation oncologists, this involves administering radiotherapy doses to shrink and eliminate existing tumours, or prophylactically to prevent tumours. Medical oncologists use chemotherapy to shrink and eliminate existing tumours, and help prevent growth of new tumours. Chemotherapy can be taken in the form of oral pills, such as etoposide, or via IV, such as doxyrubicin.

Medical oncologists work closely with radiation oncologists and surgical oncologists to determine the best type of treatment options for a patient. Depending on the type of cancer, this may involve combining different treatment modalities, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Chemotherapy is often required over a longer duration than radiotherapy or surgery, which will mean that patients likely have a more established relationship with their medical oncologist.

Because the care of patients with cancer is often complex, medical oncologists must collaborate with a variety of other practitioners, including family physicians and specialists that may be required to provide assistance, either because of the direct impacts of the cancer or underlying health conditions, or the effects of chemotherapy.

Common Cancers

In Canada, cancers of the lung, breast, colon, rectum, and prostate are the most common types of cancers. Treating these cancers may often necessitate a collaborative approach to oncological management. For example, in the case of lung cancer, surgery may be required to retrieve a biopsy of a lung tumour, and depending on the type of cancer, the patient may require either or both chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Leukemias and lymphomas, which are cancers that involve blood cells or the immune cells respectively, are also common types of cancers. These may require close collaboration with hematologists, physicians that have specialized in the study and treatment of blood disorders and diseases.

Further Advanced Training Opportunities

Clinical research fellowships: In addition to providing training for residents to become competent clinical researchers, these types of fellowships can result in a Masters of Science degree if completed successfully. As well, such fellowships can allow the physician to gain knowledge and expertise in specific malignancies of their choosing.

Gender Breakdown
42 responses (2014 National Survey Results)

Age Breakdown
42 responses (2014 National Survey Results)
Hours Breakdown (Excluding on-call activities)
50 responses (2014 National Survey Results)

Activity Hours Worked (mean)
Direct patient care without a teaching component 19.03
Direct patient care with a teaching component 6.59
Teaching/ educating without direct patient care 1.59
Indirect patient care 11.0
Health facility committees 1.30
Administration 2.86
Research 5.90
Managing your practice .99
CME/ CPD (Continuing Professional Development) 2.75
Other actvities .49
Total Hours 52.46

Medical Oncology Residency Programs in Canada

Contact information for Program Directors can be accessed on the Royal College’s website here: Open in new tab

University of British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia

Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario

University of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta

University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Ontario

University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta

McGill University
Montréal, Quebec

Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John’s, Newfoundland

Université de Montréal
Montréal, Quebec

University of Manitoba
Manitoba, Winnipeg

Université de Sherbrooke
Sherbrooke, Quebec

Université Laval
Laval, Québec

Western University
London, Ontario

Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia

McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario

University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario

Page Author(s): Emma Ali (2018)
© 2021 Internal Medicine Interest Group (IMIG) - Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry