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In this section:
- What is a multi-disciplinary team?
- Why have an MDT?
- Who is in the cancer MDT?
- How is my treatment decided?
- Where will my treatment be given?
- Where can I get more information about who is involved in my care?
What is a multi-disciplinary team?
The diagnosis and treatment of cancer requires a team of experts with different skills and training. This team is called a multi-disciplinary team (or MDT for short) and includes professionals who are specialists in cancer diagnosis and treatment, and how it may affect you. You may not meet all the members of the team, but they will be involved in planning your care.
There is a cancer MDT for each type of tumour, to ensure your care is planned and given by specialists in that particular cancer type. Each MDT has a core set of members but other health specialists may join this core team from time to time, where needed.
People who have very rare cancers may have treatment which involves MDT members from another cancer network, who are experts in their treatment and care.
Each MDT works by following national guidelines or rules on how they should work with each other, with your GP and with the other specialist services. Each team member is responsible for keeping up to date with changes and new treatments in cancer.
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, no matter who their GP is or which hospital they attend.
Who is in the MDT will depend on the type of cancer you have. It may include the following people:
A cancer nurse specialist (may also be called a clinical nurse specialist or a CNS, for short). This is a nurse who is an expert in the care and support of people with a particular type of cancer. The cancer nurse specialist can:
- Provide support, information and advice through all stages of your illness
- Liaise between all members of the team, you and your family, your GP and community staff
- Help you to manage difficult symptoms
The cancer nurse specialist is usually the ‘key worker’ for people with cancer. You can access any member of your MDT team through your key worker.
A Consultant Physician or Consultant Surgeon
A specialist doctor who leads the MDT team and is either usually involved in the early stages when problems are first noted or later when treatment is discussed. He/she can:
- Order or carry out tests to help confirm diagnosis and decide the best treatment
- Explain, arrange or carry out any treatment you might need
- Help with other problems you may have during your illness
A doctor who is an expert in carrying out and interpreting x-rays and special scans, for example, Computerised Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans. The Consultant Radiologist can also advise the team about which tests you should have.
Consultant Histopathologist or Pathologist
A doctor who is an expert in looking at tissue samples under a microscope to see if cancer cells are present, and if so the type of cancer. This helps us to work out how the cancer cells might behave, which is very important in deciding on the best treatment.
A specialist doctor who is an expert in non-surgical treatments for cancer. Clinical Oncologists specialise in radiotherapy but may also have expertise in chemotherapy (drug treatment). Medical Oncologists specialise in chemotherapy. The Oncologist advises the team about the non-surgical treatments you could have
Macmillan Palliative Care Specialist Nurse
A nurse who is specially trained to help you and your family achieve the best quality of life. This is called palliative care and includes managing your symptoms and giving emotional support.
An MDT Coordinator / Administrator
A clerical person who co-ordinates the team, their meetings and discussions and makes sure your records are looked after and available when needed.
To make sure you are given the most appropriate treatment for you, your case will be discussed at an MDT meeting attended by all members of the team. These are usually held every week or every fortnight. At the meeting, the team will discuss all the options for your treatment. Afterwards, these will be explained to you and you will be offered written information to help you make a decision about your treatment.
You will be able to ask any questions you have, and we will give you as much information as you would like.
Because your specialist MDT members may be based at different hospitals throughout Greater Manchester & Cheshire Cancer Network, these team members sometimes communicate via video conference or may travel long distances to be present at the meetings where their patients are discussed.
This means that members of the team may be based at one hospital, but patients may be seen, or have their treatment, at another hospital, usually nearer to where they live.
Once your treatment plan is agreed you will be given more information about the treatment you are going to have and where this will take place. Depending on the treatment you have, this may be at the Christie Hospital in Manchester, or your local hospital.
If you need radiotherapy treatment this will be given at the Christie Hospital. Sometimes the doctors who work at the Christie hold clinics at your local hospital to discuss treatment and to follow you up afterwards.
If you would like to know more about the team involved in your care, you should speak to your consultant, clinical nurse specialist, or contact one of the Cancer Information Centres .