HOW DO MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAMS IMPROVE YOUR CANCER CARE?

A key principle of NSW Health’s state cancer strategy, the multidisciplinary team approach taken by Macquarie University Hospital is an important part of how we ensure that you and your family members get the best care.


In the Australian health care system, a multidisciplinary team (MDT) is made up of a group of health care experts who get together weekly or biweekly to discuss patient cases in specific detail.

Working together, the team of experts ensures that your management plan is individualised and optimised for the very latest developments in all the different aspects of cancer care.

At Macquarie University Hospital, these teams are composed of surgical, medical and radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, specialist nurses, clinical psychologists and other specialised allied health professionals.

Professor Richard Kefford is Head of the Cancer Program at Macquarie University Hospital and he continues to champion the rigour that the MDT approach brings to the care of our patients.

“The key to Macquarie University Hospital’s success with MDTs is the comprehensive and detailed nature of our discussions,” he says.

“Each team will consider a detailed presentation by the pathologist and radiologist at the critical MDT meeting following an individual patient’s initial cancer surgery.

“This gives the whole team access to highly nuanced information about the nature of that patient’s specific tumour, its biological features and its behaviour. We can all ask questions, and often have a vigorous discussion. Collectively, we then derive the optimal treatment plan that will be presented in consultation with the patient.”

A MDT plan may involve radiation therapy, drug treatments such as chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and the use of modern targeted anti-cancer drugs and immunotherapy.

“What this means for our patients is that they receive an extremely well-considered treatment plan that is the result of collective expertise, and the latest medical knowledge,” says Professor Kefford.

“The MDT meeting also provides a forum for critical ‘checks and balances’ where any one doctor’s treatment recommendation can be openly questioned and tested by a group of expert peers. These discussions are fully documented and signed off as a permanent part of the patient’s medical record.”

Macquarie University Hospital has exemplary MDTs in breast oncology and neuro-oncology – the latter chaired by Professor Andrew Davidson – as well as in colorectal, upper-gastrointestinal, prostate, lung and head and neck cancers.