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 organizations 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:
Gastroenterologist: A specialist who deals with conditions of the digestive tract. Performs the endoscopic tests for Oesophageal cancer.
Thoracic Surgeon: A surgeon who specialises in operating on diseases in the chest region.
Medical Oncologist: Specialist that decides the optimum course and agent for chemotherapy
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.
Radiation Oncologist: A specialist that decides the optimum course and agent for radiotherapy
Palliative care specialist: A specialist that helps patients deal with the physical and psychological symptoms involved with the diagnosis and management of oral cancer.
Nutritionist: This professional creates specialised nutrition plans for patients, especially important when a feeding tube is used post-operatively.
Some of the best cancer hospitals in India that take an organ-based approach, have a separate department for Gastrointestinal Cancers. These teams comprise of specialists who have dedicated training in cancers of the digestive system.
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 that treat cancer 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 specialist hospital where you are being treated may have a support group that you could join.
Sources: Mayo Clinic