Unlike most other diseases, cancer treatment requires an integrated approach from several specialists, each with their own expertise. This team of specialists who would work together on your cancer, is referred to as the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT). Many global organisations including the best cancer hospitals in India, have recognized the importance of a MDT for cancer treatment, as it improves coordinated care to you, as a patient. Your MDT would include doctor cancer specialists from the following:
Medical Oncologist: A specialist of cancer that decides the optimum course and agent for chemotherapy
Neurosurgeon: A surgeon specialized in operating on conditions related to the brain and spinal cord
Neurologist: A medical specialist who is the first point of contact for many patients with brain tumours
Radiation Oncologist: Specialist that decides the optimum course and agent for radiotherapy
Radiologist: A specialist who interprets MRI, X-rays and CT scans
Pathologist: A specialist who studies tissues under the microscope and provides insights regarding cancer cells that help decide treatment
Palliative care specialists: Helps patients deal with the physical and psychological symptoms involved with the diagnosis and management of cancer.
Some cancer hospitals in India, that take an organ-based approach to cancer, have a separate department for Central Nervous System (CNS) cancers. These teams comprise of specialists who have dedicated training in cancers occurring in the brain and spinal cord.
A tumor board is a meeting where a Multi-Disciplinary Team discusses cancer cases and share knowledge. The board’s goal is to determine the best possible cancer treatment and care plan for an individual patient. Having fresh perspectives from other doctors makes it much easier to come up with that plan.
In some of the best cancer hospitals in India, all cancer cases are discussed at the Tumor Board, while in other hospitals the Tumor Board focuses on cases where a doctor oncologist seeks inputs from other specialists on the patient's case. It’s OK to ask your doctor if or why your case was discussed at a tumor board. Or if it wasn’t, why not? In some cases, a patient’s treatment plan is very straightforward using standard treatment guidelines, and the doctor may feel a tumor board review isn’t needed. However in the best cancer hospitals in India, you can request that one be done.
These are offline or online groups that connect patients suffering from cancer. Do find out about a support group around you. The hospital where you are being treated may have a support group that you could join.
Sources: Mayo Clinic