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  • Writer's pictureCarley Batley

The case for an evidence-based approach to streamlining MDTs

UM Programme co-lead Professor Grant Stewart makes the case in the Lancet this week for an evidence-based strategy for streamlining multidisciplinary team meetings (MDTs). MDTs were a central part of the transformation in cancer care in England, starting in the mid-1990s. Professor Stewart et al. describe how the MDT structure 'provides value through a formal, dedicated setting for the cancer-specific specialists to meet regularly to methodically review cases, provide specialist knowledge, and collectively formulate treatment recommendations.'

While MDTs have been instrumental in improving cancer care, current MDT practices cannot meet the new challenges in the cancer landscape. For this reason, since 2020 MDTs have been streamlined, no longer discussing all cases but focussing on complex cases.

Together with colleagues Tayana Soukup (Imperial College, London) and Benjamin W Lamb (University of Suffolk), Professor Stewart makes the case that the implementation of this reform has been inconsistent across England, potentially leading to a return to the inequity in treatment that the MDT was implemented to overcome. In order to address this, Professor Stewart et al. propose 'an evidence-based research effort grounded in implementation science to minimise risks and maximise learning.'

On the value and cost of MDTs, Professor Stewart said, ‘the multidisciplinary team meeting is a cornerstone of cancer care in the UK, but we need undertake research to better understand the optimal use of this expensive meeting which gathers together medical and nursing staff across multiple specialities.’

The authors recommend a multi-step review with the ultimate aim to create 'a practical gold standard implementation manual for multidisciplinary team meetings across different tumour types.'

The article concludes, '[a]s we navigate this transformative phase in cancer care, it is crucial that streamlining remains rooted in evidence-based strategies and approaches [...] we should strive to combine historical lessons, evidence-based methodologies, and future-forward strategies, ensuring equitable, and consistently high-quality care for every patient with cancer.'

Read the full article here: Tayana Soukup, Grant D Stewart, Benjamin W Lamb. Defining an evidence-based strategy for streamlining cancer multidisciplinary team meetings. 2023 Oct. Vol. 24, (10), pp.1061-1063, doi:

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