When faced with a cancer diagnosis, it is not unusual for a patient to consider a second opinion. Patients want reassurance that they are going to receive the highest level of treatment available.
“At the McLeod Center for Cancer Treatment and Research, patients receive a second, third, fourth and fifth opinion on their treatment plan from the Tumor Board,” says McLeod Radiation Oncologist Dr. T. Rhett Spencer. “Each week, physicians representing Medical Oncology, Pathology, Radiation Oncology, Radiology and Surgery, discuss cancer patient’s cases which are presented to one of four McLeod Tumor Boards. Together, we recommend the best treatment plans for patients with a variety of cancers. Other specialists who may be in attendance to offer expertise in their specialty areas include Cardiothoracic Surgery, Pulmonology, Neurosurgery and Physics.”
During each McLeod Tumor Board meeting, these groups of physicians review the pertinent imaging scans and diagnostic studies, as well as the pathology, and receive a presentation of the patient’s case. The board’s recommendations are then provided to the patient’s physician to support their plans for treatment. The patient and the physician make the final decision regarding the plan of care, based on the information and suggestions from at least five other Tumor Board physician consults.
With breast cancer being the most commonly treated cancer at McLeod, the communication among surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists doesn’t occur only at the Tumor Board. Rarely does a day go by that various specialists are not in contact with each other. This close communication greatly benefits the patient in the management of their disease.
Lung cancer patients also benefit from the expertise of cardiothoracic surgeons and specialists in medical and radiation oncology, pulmonary, radiology and pathology, who discuss their cases. These physicians evaluate the patient’s diagnosis and determine the safest, most efficient way to treat the tumor whether that encompasses conventional or robotic surgery, the use of chemotherapy, and/or traditional radiation versus stereotactic body radiotherapy.
A separate tumor board meeting reviews the neuro-oncology cases. Working with neurosurgeons and physicists, the Tumor Board evaluates a patient’s tumor to determine if they are a candidate for stereotactic radiosurgery, if chemotherapy is indicated or whether additional pathology is needed before a decision is made on exactly how to treat the cancer.
“Our patients remain at the center of what we do,” concludes Dr. Spencer. “This team mindset gives us an opportunity to deliver the most advanced, effective treatment available to patients diagnosed with cancer.”
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