European prostate cancer treatment is changing - what are the opportunities for marketers?

Jeremy Poland|3rd August 2016

In this article, Consultant Jeremy Poland examines some of the key dynamics in prostate cancer multi-disciplinary teams across Europe. He will cover what we mean by multidisciplinary team, who the key stakeholders are in prostate cancer, the critical trend we are currently seeing, and the opportunities this provides to healthcare marketers operating in the area.

What is a multi-disciplinary team?

Expressed very simply, a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) represents a number of different medical functions that are involved in the management of patient care. The term MDT is itself a very British expression – across Europe the model may be referred to in a number of ways (e.g. Clinical Tumour Board, Academic Tumour Board, Multi-Specialty Practice etc.), and may be implemented with varying degrees of formality. 

In oncology, the existence of MDTs is actually nothing new. In fact, we can look back 50 years or more to the US and can find a cousin of the existing model in the form of educational tumour boards. And until relatively recently, that is exactly what they were – educational. It was the in the late 90s and early 00s when the UK, driven by public and political pressure to improve the consistency of patient care, reformed the provision of cancer services to include regular multidisciplinary meetings as a way to formally implement the MDT model. A key goal of this transformation was to improve communication between medical functions whilst also ensuring decision making was evidence based and improving continuity of care and outcomes for patients.

Such was the success of this approach in the UK, many other European countries began to follow suit and adopt the MDT model for cancer care in their region.

Key stakeholders in prostate cancer MDTs

Of course healthcare systems across the EU have their idiosyncrasies, and as such, those stakeholders involved in the management of prostate cancer (and indeed their degree of involvement) varies by region. Broadly speaking, however, the key members of an MDT will include a urologist, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, radiologist, pathologist, pharmacist, and clinical nurse specialist – who often fulfils the role of MDT coordinator or key worker. These functions will make up the group, panel or board depending on the preference of the region.

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