Multi-disciplinary Team (MDT):
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 have recognized the importance of a MDT for cancer treatment, as it improves coordinated care to you, as a patient. Your MDT would include specialists from the following:
Gynecologic oncologist: A trained surgeon who plays a key role in managing cervical cancer.
Medical oncologist: A doctor specializing in drug based treatments such as chemotherapy.
Radiation oncologist: A clinician specialized in treating cancer with radiation
Pathologist/Onco-pathologist: A clinician specialized in examining tissue samples from the PAP smear and the biopsy under a microscope
Radiologist: A clinician specialized in reading X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, ultrasounds, and other imaging modalities.
Genetic Specialist: A clinician/scientist who determines the genetic make-up of a tumour.
Physiotherapist: Physical therapists provide support for patients, especially to alleviate the effects of some of the treatments for cancer.
Counsellor: Psychologist by training that offers counselling to patients
Dietician: Offers personalized support to cancer patients
Palliative care specialists: These professionals help patients and families deal with the emotions that come with a cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment such as anxiety and depression as well as keep the patient comfortable especially in incurable cases.
A tumor board is a meeting where your Multi-Disciplinary Team discusses cancer cases and shares 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 cancer specialist hospitals the Tumor Board focuses on cases where a doctor 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, 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 cancer specialist hospitals where your treatment is being done, may have a support group that you could join.
Sources: Patient Resource; Jostrust;