Published on September 09, 2020

Doctors talking in a conference room.

Cancer experts collaborate to develop personalized plans

Every cancer diagnosis is highly personal. Every patient is unique, and people respond to treatment in different ways. The complexity of the disease and potential treatment options make caring for cancer patients a team effort.

Multidisciplinary care conferences, also known as tumor boards, are essential for bringing medical professionals together to evaluate and discuss treatment options for their patients. These conferences offer an opportunity for ProHealth Care and UW Health providers to come together and discuss treatment plans for patients at ProHealth’s three cancer centers.

The participants in cancer care conferences vary depending on the diagnosis to be discussed and the organs impacted. Conferences include medical and radiation oncologists, surgeons, radiologists and pathologists. Pharmacists, dietitians, genetic counselors, social workers and research staff may also participate in discussions.

It’s common for a patient’s case to be presented at a tumor board meeting shortly after diagnosis and before the start of treatment. Prior to a care conference, the medical team thoroughly reviews the patient’s medical information. When the team meets, the specialists present specific information about the patient’s medical status and the treatment options they would recommend based on their areas of expertise.

The group considers the type and stage of disease, carefully reviews imaging and other test results, discusses current research related to the patient’s case, and looks at treatment options and recommendations. The opinions of all of the experts are considered before agreement is reached on the best plan of care.

Once a care plan is developed, a medical oncologist or the patient’s surgeon shares treatment recommendations and findings with the patient.

The goal of the cancer care conferences is optimal patient care. Care conferences also provide a structured forum for medical professionals to share and exchange knowledge directly with each other, as cancer treatment options advance quickly.

The collaborative approach and development of a personalized care plan ensure that patients and their families benefit from the expertise of several specialties and that treatments are designed to meet the goals of each patient.