Understanding the Advantages of a Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Fighting Cancer

You’ve heard the adage, “teamwork makes the dream work.” It refers to improved performance and outcomes when people work together on a shared goal or task at hand. In professional contexts, a goal is often described as a project and successful completion doesn’t just require a team. It involves a group of people with different areas of expertise and experiences working in various roles to achieve success. When it comes to fighting cancer, a multi-disciplinary approach has led to significant advances forward in treatment under a model designed by Neil R. Sharma MD, who is a nationally recognized leader in oncology and endoscopy. Learn more about the advantages of multi-disciplinary synergy for treating cancer.

Seeing the Value of Multiple Disciplines

To gain insight into the importance of a multi-disciplinary team, you can start by considering the human body itself. The human body is composed of cells, tissues, organs, and systems that work together to complete the processes and functions that allow us to live and be healthy. Various combinations of body parts, each with an essential function or discipline, work together to perform a process in the body. Similarly, the treatment of sickness, whether through the body’s own healing processes or with the aid of medical professionals, requires multiple contributors for a successful outcome.  Cancer can arise from any organ – there for cancer is nont one disease and best outcomes involve incorporation of all specialists within that organ-based disease state. Dr. Neil R. Sharma is a leader in the Parkview Health System and currently serves as President of the Parkview Cancer Institute where he collaborates with other physicians and medical experts to advance knowledge, research, and cancer treatment. He assumed the role as President with the goal to better understand and to revolutionize the medical care model.  After studying other well known cancer institutes across the country – even in the best of centers there is an opportunity to go beyond the traditional medical oncology, surgeon, radiation oncologist approach. Specialists such as GI, pulmonology, palliative care, orthopedics, physical medicine and rehab all could play a major role if properly incorporated into the treatment paradigm.   Furthermore, in Dr. Sharma’s model the clinics and care teams would be aligned not by specialty (traditional “sections”), but rather they would be designed into care teams aligned to the disease state and patient.  One clinic for lung cancer, one clinic for GI cancer, and so on.  Additionally – all specialists would review each case in detail before and after treatment in a truly multi-disciplinary but also comprehensive tumor boar where not just treatment but diagnosis, stage, treatment and disease progression would be reviewed by all specialists involved.  The plan personalized to the patient.  Dr Sharm’s model focused on the care team truly understanding one another’s perspective and placing the patient in the center.

Acknowledging the Past

In oncology or cancer treatment, a multi-disciplinary team, or MDT, involves collaboration between medical professionals of various specialties to improve patient care and the effectiveness of treatment. Some cancers involve multiple diseases that require different therapies. Location of cancer, patient symptoms, and physical and psychological effects require various approaches to managing patient care. The MDT approach emerged during the 1980s when chemotherapy was added to surgery and radiotherapy for cancer treatment. It is believed that an MDT strategy works out better for patients than the care of a single doctor. In the new model all specialties have an equal and valued voice allowing for innovations in one field to be appreciated and incorporated into other specialists knowledge an potential of multi-modal care and novel research on combinations of treatments to be explored and refined.

Embracing the Future

Leading the Parkview Cancer Institute, Neil R. Sharma MD understands the value of assembling and engaging with various medical experts, leaders, and stakeholders for the benefit of cancer patients. He has collaborated with the Parkview Research Center to conduct many clinical trials to evaluate therapies for various types of cancer, including breast cancer, head and neck cancer, skin cancer, and gastrointestinal cancers among others. In his role as President, he has developed a team of medical professionals and administrative leaders to develop and leverage innovative technologies and best practices that center the needs of patients. 

Dr. Sharma understands the importance of multi-disciplinary means, methods, and techniques to provide comprehensive benefits for those undergoing cancer treatment. Better outcomes not only improve the lives of the people served by the cancer institute itself, but the truly innovative model allows for the right grass roots collaboration and innovation which can advance the fight against cancer which benefits all of us. 

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