Intended for healthcare professionals


Specialist multidisciplinary team working in the treatment of cancer

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 26 April 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2780
  1. Gina Brown, consultant radiologist
  1. 1Radiology Department, Royal Marsden Hospital, Sutton SM2 5PT, UK
  1. gina.brown{at}

Improves survival, possibly through enabling bolder treatment

Before 1995, treatment for all but a few patients with cancer was based on decisions that were made unilaterally, without necessarily following an evidence based approach. Specialist multidisciplinary teams for the treatment of cancer were generally found only in larger tertiary cancer centres. In 1995, an expert advisory group on cancer was set up with the aim of developing a framework that could achieve consistency in the delivery and outcomes of NHS cancer services in the UK.1 Over the ensuing years, the definition and composition of the multidisciplinary team has evolved, and such teams now provide a more structured and well documented system of care. In a linked study (doi:10.1136/bmj.e2718), Kesson and colleagues report outcomes for patients identified by the Scottish breast cancer registry who were treated contemporaneously in one of two regions,2 one of which used a multidisciplinary team approach and the other did not. In this way, the authors could directly compare the effects of a defined multidisciplinary team on breast cancer survival rates.

Management by a multidisciplinary team ensures that all patients with cancer benefit from the wisdom of a …

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