Medical Oncology

The Discipline

Medical oncology is the internal medicine subspecialty which involves the diagnosis and management of benign and malignant neoplasms. Internists practicing oncology (“oncologists”) typically assist general internists and other physicians in identifying individuals at risk for malignancy and investigating clinical symptoms and syndromes suggestive of underlying cancer. In patients with a diagnosed neoplasm, oncologists frequently undertake the care of patients with solid and hematologic tumors to attempt a cure or to prolong life and/or palliate symptoms.

Oncologists may practice in a dedicated oncology group, managing patients along with other physicians. Many oncologists provide consultative services to both other physicians and medical institutions. Oncologists, particularly those in academic settings, may engage in basic science and clinical research and teach medical students and residents.

Oncology is frequently coupled with training in hematology in a combined hematology-oncology fellowship program. This dual training prepares an internist to diagnose, treat, and manage a wide range of related diseases.


Medical oncology fellowship training requires two years of accredited training beyond completion of a basic internal medicine residency, while dual certification in hematology and medical oncology requires three years of combined fellowship training.

Following completion of fellowship training in oncology, trainees are eligible for certification in oncology by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

Training Positions

In the 2021-2022 academic year, there were 5 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)-accredited training programs in medical oncology with 35 trainees. There were also 172 ACGME-accredited training programs in hematology and medical oncology with 1,981 trainees.

Major Professional Societies

  • American Society of Clinical Oncology

See all the career pathways open to internal medicine doctors.

Back to the October 2021 issue of ACP IMpact