European Cancer Organisation
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Policy Statement on Multidisciplinary Cancer Care

Cancer care is undergoing an important paradigm shift from a disease-focused management to a patient-centred approach, in which increasingly more attention is paid to psychosocial aspects, quality of life, patients’ rights and empowerment, and survivorship. In this context, multidisciplinary teams emerge as a practical necessity for optimal coordination among health professionals and clear communication with patients.

ECCO and its member societies contributed to the following Policy Statement on Multidisciplinary Cancer Care. The document is the result of a workshop carried out in the framework of the European Partnership for Action Against Cancer (EPAAC). It identifies multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) as the core component in cancer care organisation and sets down the key elements to guide policy changes across all European health systems.

 

Policy Statement Highlights:

Rationale and Definition of Multidisciplinary Teams (MDTs):

  • The promotion of MDTs is an ethical priority
  • Fostering MDTs is imperative to ensuring appropriate clinical decisions
  • Multidisciplinary clinical practice guidelines warrant special attention
  • Clinical leadership and firm commitment by health care providers are essential for the sustainability of MDTs
  • The dynamic nature of cancer care brings increased reliance on networks for knowledge and expertise – this underlines the need for structured interprofessional collaboration
  • Consistent MDT work is crucial to survivorship and support for research

Definition of MDTsMultidisciplinary teams (MDTs) are an alliance of all medical and health care professionals related to a specific tumour disease whose approach to cancer care is guided by their willingness to agree on evidence-based clinical decisions and to co-ordinate the delivery of care at all stages of the process, encouraging patients in turn to take an active role in their care.

 

Core Pillars of an Effective Multidisciplinary Team include:

  • Clear care objectives that have the agreement of MDT diagnostic and therapeutic members and patients, covering issues around diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship
  • Organisation of the MDT that establishes operative leadership and coordination, designates a point of contact for patients, includes benchmarking exercises that integrate emerging scientific breakthroughs, and reserves specific time and resources for physicians and healthcare professionals to participate on tumour boards
  • Information databases that record clinical decisions, outcomes and indicators, facilitating the assessment of progress and the identification of areas to further improve
  • Patient-centred approach, with available and comprehensible information on clinical and psychosocial aspects of the care process, clear communication channels between the care team and the patient, and the promotion of participation and choice
  • Policy support from national and regional health authorities, scientific societies and patients’ organisations, with special attention to including mechanisms to establish and sustain MDTs through national cancer control plans.

 

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