Tumour boards/multidisciplinary head and neck cancer meetings: are they of value to patients, treating staff or a political additional drain on healthcare resources?

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Abstract

Purpose of review

This article reviews the literature on the management of head and neck cancer using multidisciplinary team meetings as well as addressing the question of whether or not this organization is of benefit to the patients and treating staff and if it is cost efficient.

Recent findings

The multidisciplinary team has developed because of the complexity of clinical workup and treatment of head and neck cancer for which no single physician can claim to master all the training and skills necessary to treat the patients. The multidisciplinary team ensures that the professional efforts are coordinated and timely, thus ensuring the best results for patients. The multidisciplinary team usually involves a centralization of care with specialization, which benefits the outcome of treatment as well as enabling the development of clinical pathways to minimize complications, and improving on cost effectiveness.

Summary

The multidisciplinary team has become more and more an integral part of the clinical pathway for a patient with head and neck cancer in many European countries. This is cost effective and benefits patient outcomes.

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