The Multidisciplinary Treatment Team
Because most women with breast cancer receive more than one type of treatment, care is given by a team of specialists, rather than just one physician. For breast cancer, a surgical or medical oncologist usually leads the coordination of treatment, and a plastic/reconstructive surgeon and a radiation oncologist are typically involved as well.
A pathologist is another important member of the team. Pathologists specialize in examining tissue samples and bodily fluids to diagnose disease. The pathologist on your team will examine tissue obtained at biopsy or during surgery to determine the stage of disease, which helps drive treatment decisions.
Additionally, both diagnostic and clinical specialists, as well as support staff, may provide care to you as part of your multidisciplinary treatment team. Members of the team may include:
- Radiologist (interprets the results of diagnostic imaging studies)
- Geneticist (specialist in the science of genes and heredity)
- Genetic counselor (specializes in providing information and support for genetic issues)
- Physician assistant/Nurse practitioner
- Oncology nurses
- Social worker
- Patient navigator/Nurse navigator
- Physical therapist
- Case manager
- Rehabilitation therapist
- Lymphedema specialist
- Occupational therapist
- Support staff and technicians
- Palliative/Support care team
Using a multidisciplinary approach, team members work together to develop a complete and unified treatment plan. Members typically meet on a regular basis to discuss the patients under their care and to assess the effectiveness and progress of therapy.