Multispecialty Clinics or Tumor Boards are forums for the interdisciplinary care of cancer patients, especially those with difficult management problems or unusual manifestations of cancer. They provide a mechanism for reaching a consensus on treatment through the empirical process of testing our opinions against one another and through facts. The mechanism follows democratic principles, that is, full and equal representation of all views. The size, structure, and method of operation may vary.
Ideally the Multispecialty Clinic / Tumor Board must be prospective with the focus on pretreatment evaluation and planning. These Clinics / Boards must be documented and must include those Cancer cases commonly seen at the institution during the year. To encompass all views on management, interdisciplinary participation is required. Without such participation, the Multispecialty Clinic / Tumor Board cannot achieve its mission. The final decisions on treatment are the responsibility of the primary treating physicians and that the opinions are only recommendations made to the treating physician by the board or conference participants.
Usually more focused on the disease site specific process, these Multispecialty Clinic / Tumor Board may consider specific technical issues as well as problems in diagnosis and patients management. Interdisciplinary approaches to patient care are also found on hospital Ethics and in Nursing.
b) Contributions to care
The resources devoted to the conduct of Multispecialty Clinic / Tumor Board should not be underestimated. These resources represent a contribution from the medical profession to cancer patient care, a contribution not widely publicized nor recognized. Resources includes the time and personal cost of physicians and other professionals in medicine who volunteer their services. The Multispecialty Clinic / Tumor Board visibly reflects the interest and the dedication of physicians, nurses and others to the care and treatment of patients with cancer.
Multispecialty Clinic / Tumor Board is an established Institution for cancer patient care. Multispecialty Clinic / Tumor Board benefits the patients, the physicians, the professional non-medical staff, and the institution. Through the Multispecialty Clinc / Tumor Board, physicians can offer the patient most recent advances in all modalities of treatment, which is the only way to ensure maximal response, highest quality of life and survival. It has been estimated that a minimum of 60% of cancer patients stand to benefit from multidisciplinary treatment planning. Perhaps just as important, patient appreciates the concern shown by physicians when their condition is discussed at the Multispecialty Clinic / Tumor Board.
In medicine, it is difficult to resist the pressure of experience as shared through the Multispecialty Clinic / Tumor Board. When all the alternatives have been shifted, convergence of opinion becomes the accepted course of action. What matters is our loyalty to our patients, not our hope of curing all cancers. We converse at the Multispecialty Clinic / Tumor Board to make further conversation unnecessary.
All cancer cases belonging to any specialty, any practicing physician is welcome to bring his / her case to Tumor Board for case discussion.