Bringing together all of the specialists patients need to see so they can receive integrated, collaborative treatment is the hallmark of multidisciplinary care. So, what happens when men receive prostate cancer treatment from multidisciplinary clinics like the one at MD Anderson?
Findings from a new MD Anderson study show that these patients are more likely to receive treatments that adhere to the national standard of care. In simple terms, that means “best practices for treating the disease.”
Prostate cancer patients who receive care at multidisciplinary prostate clinics also are more likely to participate in discussions with their doctors and to have a say in their treatment options.
The study – the largest of its kind – compared almost 4,500 prostate cancer patients who received care at MD Anderson’s multidisciplinary prostate cancer clinic to a similar-sized group listed in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) national cancer database. Patients in the SEER database were not necessarily treated in a multidisciplinary clinic.
“We were interested in querying the results of our multidisciplinary clinic experience, as our clinic has been open since 2004,” says Chad Tang, M.D., assistant professor of Radiation Oncology and leader of the study.
Patients quickly receive a balanced view of treatment options without needing to schedule multiple appointments with multiple doctors.
A balanced approach to prostate cancer treatment
More than 170,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, according to the American Cancer Society. It’s the most common cancer in men, outside of skin cancer. A variety of treatment options are available, including surgery, radiation therapy, proton therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy and active surveillance, in which a relatively slow-growing cancer may be watched rather than treated.
“Some men,” Tang says, “are never informed about all the options available to them, and some doctors tend to recommend the treatment that they can deliver. But in a multidisciplinary clinic, patients quickly receive a balanced view of treatment options without needing to schedule multiple appointments with multiple doctors.”
Treatment decisions are highly personalized, Tang says. They depend on such factors as the patient’s age, how advanced his disease is, and whether he’s willing to run the risk of urinary incontinence or sexual dysfunction, which can occur after some prostate cancer treatments.
For patients whose cancer is at low risk of spreading, active surveillance and more aggressive treatments have both been shown to control the cancer, but they have very different quality of life measures. For example, some people don’t care about the risk of sexual dysfunction and may opt for surgery.
“Either way, it’s the patient’s choice,” Tang says. “If he’s a perfect candidate for active surveillance but really wants his cancer treated, that’s his option.”
It’s important to offer patients the full spectrum of care.
Bringing the Multidisciplinary Prostate Cancer Clinic to more patients
At MD Anderson’s Multidisciplinary Prostate Cancer Clinic, health care providers work together using the same processes, workflows, treatment philosophy and standardized guidelines for every patient. Based on this Houston clinic, MD Anderson has also opened multidisciplinary prostate cancer clinics in MD Anderson Cancer Network®, a group of community hospitals and health systems nationwide that collaborate with MD Anderson to deliver higher quality and advanced care to patients in their communities.
“It’s important to offer patients the full spectrum of care, a well-balanced approach, assistance with decision-making, and the resulting effects connected with a patient-centric, multidisciplinary style,” says Deborah Kuban, M.D., vice president of Cancer Network clinical operations. “These findings are important, and hopefully can encourage the development of more multidisciplinary clinics.”
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