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TUMOUR BOARD / MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAM MEETINGS

Multidisciplinary team meetings (known as Tumour Boards) have been held at the Centre for several years. Weekly meetings are held for the most common types of cancer, such as breast, gastrointestinal and lung cancer. Meetings for almost all other malignancies are organised more infrequently. The decisions of the Tumour Boards are recorded in minutes and the treatment plan for each patient is determined.

 

Improved survival rates are currently observed in a significant number of types of cancer. This is mainly attributed to better knowledge of the biological behaviour of the disease, which has led to groundbreaking treatments.

 

Who decides and who determines these treatments? Is the treating physician the only person in charge and the main person leading the process?

 

Traditionally, care for cancer patients was undertaken exclusively by one doctor, who referred the patient, if and when necessary. Multidisciplinary teams have helped organise an improved system of communication amongst experts and reduce hassle and stress for patients. They are governed by the following operating rules:

 

  • They are held at regular intervals, usually on a weekly basis.
  • All new cancer cases are thoroughly discussed and the clinical, radiology and histopathologic diagnosis is reviewed.
  • Adequate preparation in view of the presentation of each case.
  • The team’s decisions on each patient are kept on file.
  • The case is referred again for further discussion if there are changes in the course of the disease.

 

According to several studies and analyses, especially in the UK, the institution of the multidisciplinary team has brought about changes in the handling and treatment of at least 1/5 of the patients, regarding - for example - the decision to receive chemotherapy or not, resulting in increased survival rates. All studies on the use of the multidisciplinary team point to better results for patients and improved quality of life. These boards are now well established in most oncology centres.

 

The role of multidisciplinary teams or Tumour Boards has been established in the United Kingdom for at least 20 years. The Tumour Board was instituted based on the findings of Calman and Hine (the Calman-Hine report) on the organisation of cancer services. Multidisciplinary team meetings (MDTs) are formed for every type of cancer and bring together all persons concerned, each of whom is a specialist in their field. They comprise of surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation therapists, oncologists, radiologists, histopathologists, specialist nurses and many more, such as dieticians and speech therapists who contribute to the better handling of the disease. They have permanent and non-permanent members plus a doctor who is usually in charge of organising each meeting. Twenty years after their emergence, Tumour Boards are now well established and operate based on European guidelines.

The following tumour boards are currently in operation at the Oncology Centre: