Unlike most other diseases, in India 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:
Medical Oncologists: Specialists that decide the agent to be administered for chemotherapy
Pathologists: Specialists that examine the sputum and biopsy samples under the microscope and report specific abnormalities that can guide management of the cancer
Pulmonologists: Lung specialists that treat all conditions pertaining to the lungs
Radiation oncologists: Specialists that decide the course for radiotherapy
Radiologists: Specialists that read CT scans, MRI scans, X rays etc
Thoracic Surgeons: Surgeons that specialise in operating on conditions pertaining to the region in the thorax (within the ribcage, specifically pertaining to the lungs)
Palliative Care Specialists: These are specialists who specialize in palliative care or pain management.
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 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 hospital where you are being treated may have a support group that you could join.
Sources: Mayo Clinic; Cancer.Net