Jobs that Help People with Cancer

Cancer patients can benefit from the experience of a number of professionals to help them make lifestyle adjustments, manage their treatments, understand their illness and cope with their diagnosis. Learn about a few jobs options and what they require.

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Career Options that Involve Helping People With Cancer

People who are diagnosed with cancer can receive help from professionals in a lot of different fields. Medical professionals may help determine, prescribe or administer treatments, while social workers and community health workers may help cancer patients receive counseling and practical support during their treatments.

Job Title Median Salary* (2016) Growth* (2014-2024)
Health Educators and Community Health Workers $44,390 13%
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians $38,040 15%
Medical Scientist $80,530 8%
Medical Writer $69,850 (for all technical writers) 10% (for all technical writers)
Nurse $68,450 16%
Radiation Therapist $80,160 14%
Physician $208,000 or more 14%
Social Worker $53,760 19%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Options that Involve Helping People With Cancer

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

Community health workers need to complete high school, and they may increase their job prospects by earning a certificate or associate's degree; a bachelor's degree is necessary to become a health educator, and certification may also be required. These healthcare professionals work with members of the community and may be involved in helping people find resources and services or creating programs to teach community members about health and health-related topics. They may work with cancer patients and help them find support groups and information about how to manage their illness. They may also counsel patients to help them deal with their diagnosis.

Medical Records and Health Information Technician

Updating databases and monitoring patient records is a big part of what medical records and health information technicians do. They may specialize as cancer registrars, who classify patient information based on the type of tumor and how the patient is being treated. Some information they compile can be used for medical research, which can help medical scientists figure out the most effective treatments so that cancer patients are diagnosed promptly and correctly and receive the best medical care possible. Medical records and health information technicians need a certificate or associate's degree; they may also need to be licensed or certified.

Medical Scientist

A Ph.D. or medical degree is needed to become a medical scientist. Medical scientists perform studies and tests and use the information from their work to form conclusions. These tests and studies may help to figure out what has caused an illness or what treatments work best to fight diseases and illnesses. Medical scientists who focus on cancer research have a very important job helping cancer patients, because their work may help patients receive the most effective treatments.

Medical Writer

Medical writers create written material about medical topics, such as clinical study reports, which may be used to help a patient understand their diagnosis or help a patient's family members understand the treatment they're receiving. They may also write manuals for medical equipment and how it should be used or cared for. Medical writers play an important role by providing information to medical professionals, patients and others affected when a friend or family member receives a cancer diagnosis. They may also write grant proposals to get funding for cancer research. The education requirements may vary from a bachelor's degree plus experience to a master's degree or doctorate. No matter the degree, those who want to specialize as a medical writer will need medical knowledge.


Although it's possible to work as a nurse with a diploma or associate's degree, registered nurses typically need a bachelor's degree and their nursing license. Nurses follow the patient care plans that are created by doctors, licensed practical nurses or other medical professionals. They provide hands-on care to patients. Those who specialize in the field of oncology work with cancer patients in hospitals, doctors' offices or other medical treatment centers, such as hospices.


Physicians are highly trained professionals who have completed a bachelor's degree, medical school, and an internship or residency program. They assess patient symptoms, ordering tests and prescribing treatments. Those who specialize in oncology focus on working with patients with cancer.

Radiation Therapist

Radiation therapists use special medical equipment to treat cancer patients and patients with other illnesses. They need to have an associate's degree and may also need to be licensed or certified. They procedures they perform are used to attack cancer cells, and radiation therapy can be used to decrease the size of the tumors. In some cases, this type of therapy can remove the tumors completely.

Social Worker

Social workers who specialize in healthcare can play an important role in the care of patients, including those with cancer. They may provide emotional support and talk to patients about their diagnosis and how it will change their life. When patients complete treatment, a healthcare social worker may also help them find a support group or suitable housing based on their medical needs. A bachelor's degree and license are required.

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