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Advanced Cancer?


A Multidisciplinary Approach Matters


Cancer that has spread to from the original point of origin (i.e. breast cancer, colorectal cancer) to another part of the body is known by several terms:  secondary, metastatic, advanced, or stage 4 cancer.


If you or a family member has been diagnosed with cancer that has spread, you want to make sure your doctor has a team that consults to discuss and determine the most effective treatment plan for you.


A Multidisciplinary Cancer Care Team


Many multidisciplinary treatment teams will meet about your case at a tumor board. This allows many different specialists to work together to determine the best treatment plan for your situation.


For example, certain patients may benefit from receiving chemotherapy before surgery. Other patients may benefit from chemotherapy or radiation after surgery.


Most patients who have advanced cancer receive multiple types of treatment. This is especially true for patients with metastatic liver cancer, which sometimes requires many different modes of therapy.


A multidisciplinary liver cancer treatment team may include the following:


Surgical oncologist – a surgical oncologist removes the tumor and nearby tissue during surgery. He or she also performs certain types of biopsies to help diagnose cancer and surgery to remove operable tumors.

Medical oncologist - a medical oncologist treats cancer using chemotherapy or other medications, such as targeted therapy or immunotherapy.  The medical oncologist usually takes the team lead.

Radiation oncologist - a radiation oncologist treats cancer using radiation therapy.

Interventional radiologist - interventional oncologists integrate minimally invasive treatments with the goal of minimizing tumor burden.

Hepatologist – physician who treats the liver, the biliary tree, the gallbladder and the pancreas

Oncology Nurse - The oncology nurse is truly the patient’s care planner, the driver of his or her overall care, and helps coordinate the various members of the health care team.

Social Worker – counsels those affected by cancer, providing emotional support and helping to access practical assistance


Benefits to Multidisciplinary Cancer Care


Patients who receive multidisciplinary cancer care benefit from:


Teamwork: When physicians with different specialties work in one place together, they can easily communicate and discuss important information about your liver tumors.

Convenience: Patients can meet with more than one expert in a single visit, because all of the specialists are in the same place

Personalized care plans: A multidisciplinary treatment team can discuss and determines the best treatment plan for your liver tumor situation.


A patient-centered multidisciplinary team approach will help you to navigate to the care you need, create goals together, provide timely and relevant information, support the patient and family, involve the patient in decision making, and align evidence-based decision making.  If your center or hospital doesn’t have a multidisciplinary treatment team, though not as efficient, it is possible to reach out and seek opinions from each separate medical discipline.





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Thank you to Amgen, Bristol-Meyers Squibb,Eisai, Genentech, Lilly, Sirtex,Taiho and Wako,

 for your support in 2020