Who will treat you?
If you are diagnosed with cancer you will have a dedicated team of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who will be responsible for planning, implementing and managing your care.
You may not meet all of the team – pathologists, for example, tend to stay behind the scenes – but they will all be working together to ensure you are getting the most appropriate treatment.
While hospitals may divide the responsibilities up differently, you can expect to have a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) made up of experts from the different areas involved in your care and treatment. They will meet regularly to discuss your case and ensure that the course of action being taken is still the best one.
Here are some of the people who may be involved in your care:
Consultant / Lead Clinician
This is the doctor who will take overall responsibility for your care and act as team leader on your case.
If you require surgery, your MTD will include a surgeon (who you’ll know as Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms rather than Dr).
If you require surgery, you will also have an anaesthetist, whose job it will be to administer your anaesthetic and monitor you while you are under the effects of it.
An oncologist is a doctor whose speciality is in cancer.
Your radiologist will be responsible for examining any x-rays or similar scans.
A medical professional who works behind-the-scenes to microscopically examine and assess tissue samples and cells etc.
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Your Clinical Nurse Specialist has been specifficaly trained to work with cancer patients. He or she will be your main link to your MDT and will be your first point of contact for any questions or concerns you have.
If you are undergoing radiotherapy treatment for your cancer, your Radiographer will be responsible for planning, delivering and monitoring this part of your care.
You may also come into contact with other allied healthcare professionals and support staff who can help you through your treatment, and with elements of your recovery. These can include social workers, financial advisors and hospital chaplaincy, or healthcare workers such as dieticians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and speech/language/swallowing therapists. Your GP will also be kept up to date on your treatment, and will offer support where he/she can.
While it may be very frightening to be diagnosed with cancer and subsequently undergo treatment, you will have a team of people behind you every step of the way to get you through it.