Multidisciplinary Treatment of Medullary Thyroid Cancer

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A multidisciplinary team is essential for the treatment of patients with rare diseases like medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), believes R. Michael Tuttle, MD. This is particularly important, since several treatment options are available for patients with MTC. Communication and coordination of care amongst each team member is essential, emphasizes Tuttle, in order for the team to function effectively. There must be constant discussion and communication between each team member.

A multidisciplinary endocrine tumor conference is held each week at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, explains Steven I. Sherman, MD. This discussion brings together endocrinologists, surgeons, oncologists, and radiation oncologists. At this meeting, the team reaches a consensus on the optimal treatment for each patient. If a member of the team is unable to attend, the discussion continues via e-mail so that each decision is made collectively, Sherman suggests.

The training for medical oncologists does not often include advanced thyroid cancers, explains Lori J. Wirth, MD. This enhances the need for a multidisciplinary team, since endocrinologists may have more experience with these patients than medical oncologists. Even if an in-person consultation is not possible, an expert should still be contacted to discuss possible treatment options by phone or e-mail, Wirth believes.

Adding to this, Sherman notes that a multidisciplinary team is critical when utilizing observation. If a team agrees on this approach, physicians can feel more comfort knowing it is the best option for the patient.

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