A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Management of Breast Cancer

By Chirag Jani | Posted in Breast Cancer Cancer Phoebe Blog Spot Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Women's Health

October 3, 2013 9:27 am
Submitted by: Chirag Jani, MD, FACP, Phoebe Cancer Center

People often use the term "multidisciplinary" to describe the ideal care for cancers and other complex diseases. A multidisciplinary approach is effective because it includes the opinions of a group of specialists - not just one doctor - in making decisions about your treatment and care. With several specialists working on your case, you are more confident that you are receiving and exploring as many treatment and care options as possible.

Breast Cancer Statistics
Currently in the United States, breast cancer accounts for 23 percent of all cancer cases, 14 percent of cancer deaths, and is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. It is estimated that approximately 234,580 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, and 40,030 women will die from the disease in 2013.

A multidisciplinary focus that entails prevention, diagnosis, and treatment has led to significant strides in the reduction of breast cancer incidence and mortality.

Multidisciplinary Treatment
Breast cancer treatment decisions are made by the patient and the physician after careful consideration of the optimal treatment available for the stage and biological characteristics of the cancer. The patient’s age and preferences as well as the risks and benefits associated with each treatment protocol also play a part in that decision process.

The current treatment of breast cancer continues to evolve rapidly as new scientific and clinical achievements change the standard of care and lead to substantial reductions in breast cancer mortality.

Most women with breast cancer typically have some type of surgery as part of their treatment. Surgery is often combined with other treatments such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and/or targeted therapy.

Breast cancer management has become increasingly complex, requiring comprehensive assessment and review of multiple issues that include the role of genetic testing, imaging and breast magnetic resonance imaging, surgical and reconstructive options, and a variety of new adjuvant therapies.

It is evident that a multidisciplinary team approach that involves a spectrum of breast experts is necessary to provide optimal care for each patient. At Phoebe Cancer Center, we have multiple specialists working in each area. The recommendations we provide our patients are based on the agreement of a group of specialists, with consultation from their colleagues in other specialty areas. This team includes medical oncologists, breast radiologists, breast pathologists, surgical breast specialists, radiation oncologists, geneticists, and primary care physicians.

More patients seek a multidisciplinary approach to treatment. Free treatment guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network are available at www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp.

Chirag Jani, MD
Dr. Chirag Jani is an assistant professor at Georgia Regents University Medical College of Georgia. He is also chairman of the cancer committee, chair of the department of medicine, and medical director of hematology oncology at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

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