A U-M cancer doctor explains a tumor board and how multiple experts help patients.
Cancer patients tend to rely on their doctors for answers and treatment plans, but may not know how much is going on behind the scenes to help their cases. Hospitals hold regularly scheduled meetings–called tumor boards–to bring experts together to discuss difficult cases and recommend the best course of treatment moving forward.
A tumor board is a multidisciplinary meeting where complex patient cases are discussed in significant detail. The meeting concentrates on patients with difficult tumors or patients who have previously received treatment and, for various reasons, now need a different treatment plan.
All the disciplines are involved in this meeting. There may be a dozen experts or more in one room. Each patient’s diagnosis is introduced and the group reviews the patient’s scans with the goal to come up with the best treatment plan.
“Tumor boards are great for patients because members of each specialty bring their own expertise to the table,” says Jorge Marrero, M.D., University of Michigan associate professor of Medicine and director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Liver Tumor Clinic. “They each have a unique view of the best approach to treat and care for a patient. It is great to have different perspectives according to the different specialties. We all compliment each other, share knowledge and offer recommendations as far as the best strategy for the patient.
After the meeting, the patient receives a recommendation on how his or her treatment should progress.
The U-M Cancer Center has such a wealth of expertise that it basically has a separate tumor board for every type of tumor. This is in contrast to community hospitals where all cancer cases are typically discussed at one single tumor board.
List of the Cancer Center’s other tumor boards.