- Cancer Information
- Caring for someone with cancer
- Your role as a carer
- Medical care
- Understanding the multidisciplinary team
Understanding the multidisciplinary team
The multidisciplinary team (MDT) is there to support the person with cancer and also their carers, but 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 you with treatment decisions and works with specialists to provide ongoing care
- Surgeon – treats cancer by operating to remove tumours and performs some biopsies
- Medical oncologist – treats cancer with drug therapies such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy (systemic treatment)
- Radiation oncologist – treats cancer by prescribing and coordinating the course of radiation therapy
- Haematologist – diagnoses and treats diseases of the bone marrow, blood and lymphatic system
- Cancer care coordinator – coordinates care, liaises with other members of the MDT, and supports the patient and family
- Other coordinator – not everyone sees a cancer care coordinator, but a clinical nurse consultant (CNC) or clinical nurse specialist (CNS) may also coordinate care
- Nurses – administer drugs and provide care, information and support throughout treatment
- Dietitian – recommends an eating plan to follow during treatment and recovery
- Physiotherapist – helps with restoring movement and mobility, and preventing further injury
- Occupational therapist – assesses changes needed to the home and suggests equipment to help with daily activities, improve quality of life and manage fatigue
- Social worker – links patients and families to support services and helps with emotional or practical issues
- Counsellor, psychologist – provide emotional support and new strategies to cope with the situation and deal with difficulties
- Spiritual care practitioner (pastoral carer) – helps people work through spiritual matters
Tina Chivende, Social Worker, Cancer Psychosocial Service, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, ACT; Gabrielle Asprey, Telephone Support Group Facilitator, Cancer Council NSW; Dr Ben Britton, Senior Clinical and Health Psychologist, Calvary Mater Newcastle and John Hunter Hospital, and Conjoint Lecturer, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, NSW; Valmai Goodwin, Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council QLD; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Zoe Mitchell, Senior Social Worker, Palliative Care, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Amber Rose, Consumer; Carolina Simpson, Policy and Development Officer, Carers NSW.
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