From the diagnosis and planning to implementation and follow up, management of a cancer patient is a complex process.
Cancer treatment involves multiple specialties( Surgical, medical and radiation oncology, molecular oncology, pathology, radiology, palliative oncology, oncopsychology, oncorehabilitation etc.) , and the best outcome in any patient can be ensured only if all decisions are taken collectively by all specialists involved.
A tumor board is a group of such specialists who meet periodically and discuss the best approach to the management of cancer patients. It ensures that there are many heads planning a holistic management of a patient.
We at Max Institute of Cancer Care have two tiers of tumor boards:
- DMG Tumor boards managed by “Disease Management Groups” ( a group of oncologists specializing in a single type of cancer) where each newly registered patient is discussed thread bare to arrive at the best possible treatment plan. This happens once a week for each DMG (nine tumor boards a week), and facilitates academic discussions, data capturing and introspection about day to day working of the DMG. Hence no patient at Max Institute of Cancer Care is treated without a tumor board discussion.
- Main tumor board which happens twice a week – which is attended by all oncologists from all DMGs, and where only patients requiring inputs from more than one DMG are discussed. These tumor boards are the backbone of our working to ensure best evidenced based practices for each individual patient.
For example, while the surgical oncologist may think a patient will benefit from surgery, a medical or radiation oncologist may offer to treat the patient before surgery so as to make the surgery easier for both the surgeon and the patient, or to further improve chances of cure. Similarly, a pathologist stuck in diagnosing a case may benefit from the inputs of a radiologist in a tumor board. Furthermore, treatment of a cancer patient may require major or minor changes from time to time, depending on the response to treatment, which requires detailed discussions among all oncology specialists.
Apart from this very crucial role, tumor boards at Max Institute of Cancer Care are also great platforms for sharing of latest academic knowledge and updates across specialties, which is not possible to have within individual departments.