The multidisciplinary team (MDT)
When you have a diagnosis of cancer, your case will be discussed at your hospital's appropriate multidisciplinary team (MDT) meeting. There is an MDT for each type of cancer, and team members meet, usually every week, to discuss all new patients with that type of cancer in their hospital, and the continuing care of others.
The team is responsible for:
- working out your treatment plan with you
- deciding on further tests
- making appropriate referrals to specialist services
- making sure the team has all the necessary members
- collecting information and keeping good records.
Your clinical nurse specialist is part of the team and is the link between you and the team. Your GP will be kept informed too, by letters from your consultant. You also have opportunities to decide which of the options for your treatment are best for you.
The MDT is made up of people who are expert in different areas of medicine. Every team works by following national guidelines or rules on how they should work with each other, with your GP and with the other specialist services.
The teams are there to ensure that each patient is given the same, high standard of care, and has the most appropriate investigations and treatment. Each team member is responsible for keeping up-to-date with changes and new treatments.
This means that all patients should receive the best possible care, no matter who their GP is or which hospital they attend. Some patients receive some of their treatments a long distance away from where most members of their team work. Each MDT has a set of core members, but other specialists may join the team from time to time.
A typical team may include:
- a lead clinician (normally a physician or surgeon) who takes responsibility for the service
- an administrator, who co-ordinates the team and makes sure your records are looked after
- a surgeon, who specialises in performing the type of operations that may be needed to treat your condition
- an oncologist – a doctor who is a specialist in the treatment of tumours
- a radiologist – a doctor who does tests in the X-ray department
- a histopathologist – a doctor who looks at tissue and cell samples under a microscope
- a clinical nurse specialist, who is skilled in caring for patients with your kind of cancer
- a palliative care nurse.