What is a multidisciplinary forum?
A multidisciplinary forum for breast, head, neck and gynaecological cancer refers to a team of specialised healthcare professionals who work together, each with a different role, to assist in the treatment of cancer patients. The multidisciplinary team is made up of different specialists in the field, and each professional provides some level of support, be it surgical, practical, or emotional. Each case is discussed at these meetings and a treatment plan is recommended that will be personalised for your condition.
Who makes up the team?
In most cases, a multidisciplinary forum will include the following healthcare professionals:
Your oncologist will specialise in the treatment of cancer, and will play a key role in planning treatments such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy.
Your surgeon will specialise in the specific cancer for which you are being treated, and will perform any surgical procedures necessary for the diagnosis and treatment of your illness. For head and neck cancers, dentists and maxillofacial surgeons are also involved.
Your physician will specialise in the area of the body in which your cancer is located, and will work closely with your surgeon in the diagnosis and treatment of your illness.
- Clinical nurse
Your clinical nurse specialist will play an important role in your treatment process, and will have particular expertise. In some cases, your nurse will visit your home, and may specialise in specific types of cancer such as breast, head and neck cancer.
- Oncology social worker and counsellor
Your oncology social worker and counsellor are available to answer questions honestly and lend an ear when it is needed. In this way, you will receive the aid you need to deal with the realities of your illness and put coping mechanisms in place.
Physiotherapist, speech and swallowing therapists
Sometimes, head and neck cancers cause changes to speech and swallowing, in which case speech and swallowing therapists are available to assist with rehabilitation.
Patients with breast cancer may require the help of a physiotherapist, particularly after radiation treatment. Your physiotherapist is able to put together an exercise program to help restore flexibility to the arm and shoulder.