Cancer cannot be treated with a one size fits all approach. Personalised care and treatment are the best way to ensure the patient receives the maximum help and comfort they need to make their treatment period more manageable. Due to the ever-growing number of cancer treatment methods discovered due to in-depth research, cancer treatment has expanded beyond the usual procedures to accommodate each patient’s varying needs.

There’s no one way to treat cancer, and this has become more obvious due to various new treatment methods panning out with better outcomes and higher survival rates. Figuring out which treatment is more suitable for the patient among the myriad options available for them calls for a more coordinated, holistic approach.

Each treatment plan depends on the patient, their medical conditions, the effects of cancer on them and the ways their bodies have been fighting said disease. That is where multidisciplinary treatment comes in. Having an expert team of highly skilled medical and radiation oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, physical therapists, radiologists and nurses weighing in their opinion and coming up with a combined treatment plan yields a higher benefit for the patient and has a greater chance of eradicating cancer.

What is multidisciplinary treatment?

A multidisciplinary treatment approach includes forming a team with various healthcare professionals across diverse disciplines who come together to formulate a comprehensive, holistic treatment plan customised to each patient.

A multidisciplinary team approach to treatment in oncology started in the mid-1980s when it was discovered the addition of chemotherapy to radiotherapy and/or surgery yielded better outcomes and increased survival rates of patients.

What is a multidisciplinary team?

Multidisciplinary treatment involves a multidisciplinary team (MDT). A multidisciplinary team is said to be a team of different healthcare workers united by one common goal - to help the patient. They come together to idealise an effective treatment strategy to ensure the patient is given all the support, help and care they need while battling cancer.

Who are the members of a multidisciplinary team?

The members of a multidisciplinary team are divided into the core team and the non-core team.

Core team:

The core team is the team that leads the MDT and is the primary caregiving team that rallies around the patient and provides the primary care needed by the patient. The core team consists of the following members:

  • Medical oncologist - An oncologist who specialises in treating cancer through chemotherapy and other drug-related treatments.
  • Radiation/clinical oncologist - An oncologist who specialises in treating cancer through radiotherapy.
  • Surgical oncologist - An oncologist who specialises in treating cancer through surgery.
  • Pathologist - A doctor who specialises in examining bodies and body tissues.
  • Radiologist - A doctor who specialises in reading x-rays and other diagnostic imaging.
  • Nurse - An experienced nurse who specialises in taking care of cancer patients.
Non-core team:

The non-core team is the secondary or ancillary team that provides the patient with additional support not covered by the core team. The non-core team consists of the following members:

  • Physical therapist - A trained professional who helps improve movement and manage pain.
  • Dietician - A trained professional who provides nutritional advice and dietary plans to improve the patient’s health.
  • Medical geneticist - A doctor who specialises in diagnosing and treating genetic disorders or conditions. Some forms of cancers are hereditary, so it is always best to have a medical geneticist on board.
  • Psychologist - A trained professional who helps the patient deal with various mental health issues caused by cancer.
  • Social worker - A trained professional chosen to help patients, families, and caregivers cope with and manage cancer by leading support groups or assisting people to gain financial aid and other resources.
  • Palliative care worker - The palliative care team, also called the support care team, provides additional support to the patients to help manage their pain, symptoms and side effects that come with cancer and its treatment.
What are the principles of multidisciplinary treatment?

The major components of an effective multidisciplinary approach include:

  • Patient-centric approach - a key principle of multidisciplinary care is to make sure that the patient and their caregivers have the final say on their treatment plan. Our goal here is to provide our patients with the best treatment available while ascertaining that they maintain their quality of life and empowering them by giving them their autonomy back to choose their preferred treatment method. Our focus is to make our patients feel heard and comforted during this stressful and strenuous period of their life. The patient can choose how involved they want to be with their treatment planning, and their explicit consent is needed to share any medical or personal information with the MDT members they haven’t yet met.
  • Effective communication - Multidisciplinary treatment guarantees an open line of communication between the patients and their doctors and between members of an MDT for effective treatment planning and additional support for the patient and their caregivers. This includes establishing a line of communication between the various members of the MDT to facilitate input from all the team members, debriefing and exchanging information amongst the teammates and keeping the patient informed about any developments.
  • Team approach - Multidisciplinary treatment is a team-oriented procedure, with an expert group of healthcare professionals coming together to formulate a specialised treatment plan tailor-made to the patient’s needs. It takes a well-coordinated team to fend against an illness as severe as cancer. The team consists of the core MDT, non-core MDT, the patient, and their families and caregivers.
  • A higher standard of care - Multidisciplinary treatment offers a higher standard of care for patients, with a specialised team to rally around the patient’s needs and ease them from any discomfort. The well-being and comfort of the patient is of utmost priority, and this approach offers the patients a level of care and safety that other treatment methods often lack.
What are the benefits of multidisciplinary cancer care?

The multidisciplinary team approach yields several benefits for both patients and healthcare professionals.

There is a shift in the focus of treatment from disease management to a more patient-oriented approach. This proves advantageous where multidisciplinary cancer care is involved, as patient comfort is the central focus.

For patients:
  • Increased survival rate of patients.
  • Shorter timeframe from diagnosis to treatment.
  • More access to information due to the involvement of professionals from various disciplines.
  • Greater satisfaction regarding treatment and care.
For healthcare professionals:
  • Improved care and better patient outcomes through a comprehensive and holistic treatment plan.
  • Streamlined workflow due to collaborative treatment schedule.
  • Better coordination of care to avoid duplication of treatment and services.
  • Decreased miscommunication and increased productivity.

Undoubtedly, the biggest advantage of multidisciplinary treatment is the number of specialists assigned to a patient’s case exponentially increases, thereby leading to more ideas being put forward that can help the patient in any possible way. It reduces the time needed to consult outside sources and devise an effective treatment.

A multidisciplinary team approach to treating cancer has yielded far better results than an individual treatment method. It is an effective strategy to provide the patient with a fighting chance against cancer.

Veritas Cancer Care focuses on a multidisciplinary team approach to treatment. By enabling the patient to receive the best care possible through various tried and tested means, we can ensure their health, safety and comfort as they battle this disease. Our expert team of healthcare professionals are here to guide you through your cancer journey to make your time with us as stress-free as possible.

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