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- Supporting someone with cancer
- Caring for someone with cancer
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- Understanding the MDT
Understanding the multidisciplinary team (MDT)
The multidisciplinary team (MDT) is there to support the person with cancer and their carers. Dealing with health professionals can be intimidating, especially if it’s something new for you. You may feel overwhelmed by all the new information or working out who to talk to about different issues.
Try keeping a notebook to record which members of the MDT are responsible for what area of care. You might need to make the initial contact with them if it doesn’t happen automatically. Having a key contact person in the MDT, such as a cancer care coordinator, can help you feel more comfortable.
Health professionals you might see
|general practitioner (GP)||assists with treatment decisions and works with specialists to provide ongoing care|
|surgeon*||surgically removes tumours and performs some biopsies; specialist cancer surgeons are called surgical oncologists|
|medical oncologist*||treats cancer with drug therapies such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy (systemic treatment)|
|radiation oncologist*||treats cancer by prescribing and overseeing a course of radiation therapy|
|haematologist*||diagnoses and treats diseases of the bone marrow, blood and lymphatic system; prescribes chemotherapy and other drug therapies|
|nurse||administers drugs and provides care, information and support throughout treatment|
|cancer care coordinator||coordinates care, liaises with other members of the MDT, and supports the family throughout treatment; care may also be coordinated by a clinical nurse consultant (CNC) or clinical nurse specialist (CNS)|
|dietitian||recommends an eating plan to follow during treatment and recovery|
|social worker||links people with cancer and carers to support services and helps with emotional, practical or financial issues|
|counsellor, psychologist, psychiatrist*||help people with cancer and their carers and families manage their emotional response during diagnosis and treatment|
|speech pathologist||helps with communication and swallowing problems|
|occupational therapist||assists in adapting the living and working environment to help the person with cancer resume their usual activities after treatment|
|physiotherapist||helps with restoring movement and mobility after treatment and preventing further injury|
|spiritual care practitioner (pastoral care)||discusses any spiritual matters and search for meaning, if appropriate; may arrange services and other religious rituals|
Dr Laura Kirsten, Principal Clinical Psychologist, Nepean Cancer Care Centre, NSW; Mary Bairstow, Senior Social Worker, Cancer Centre, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Anne Booms, Nurse Practitioner – Supportive and Palliative Care, Icon Cancer Centre Midland, WA; Dr Erica Cameron-Taylor, Staff Specialist, Department of Palliative Care, Mercy Hospice, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Tracey Gardner, Senior Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council Queensland; Louise Good, Cancer Nurse Consultant, WA; Verity Jausnik, Senior Policy Officer, Carers Australia; David Larkin, Cancer Supportive Care Manager, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, Canberra Hospital and Health Service, ACT; Kate Martin, Consumer; John McMath, Consumer; Simone Noelker, Physiotherapist and Wellness Centre Coordinator, Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre, VIC; Tara Redemski, Senior Physiotherapist – Cancer Care, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Dean Rowe, Consumer; Chris Sibthorpe, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland.
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