When you or someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, the days or weeks following can be overwhelming. Often, patients have to travel to different doctors at different locations for scans and other tests before a care team can recommend the best treatment plan. At the University of Colorado Cancer Center this process is simplified by multidisciplinary clinics, or MDC’s.
What is a multidisciplinary clinic (MDC)?
A multidisciplinary clinic offers patients an “all in one” package that simplifies the process of getting the best treatment plan. At the CU Cancer Center, MDC’s are clinics that focus on a specific type of cancer. For example, patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer would be seen in the colorectal cancer MDC, and patients with pancreas cancer would be seen in an MDC specific to pancreas cancer. At an MDC, patients are evaluated in one day by all of the specialists who take care of that specific cancer. An MDC team may include surgeons, surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, dieticians, genetic counselors, and more.
After a patient is evaluated, the entire team of specialists (often more than 50 people) come together to discuss the best treatment plan for the patient.
What MDC’s are offered at the CU Cancer Center?
Currently, there are 11 MDC’s at the cancer center:
- Colorectal and Anal Cancer
- Esophageal and Gastric Cancer
- Liver Cancer
- Neuro-endocrine Tumor
- Pancreas and Biliary Cancer
- Peritoneal Cancer/HIPEC
- Thoracic oncology
- Breast Cancer
- Adrenal Cancer
MDC’s are continuing to expand to other cancer types. Urology Oncology will be started soon.
Who should who go to the MDC?
The MDC is a great option for all patients whether they are newly diagnosed, looking for a second opinion, or going through treatment.
What to expect at an MDC visit?
In addition to accessing a full team of specialists all in one place, patients who visit an MCD work with a health navigator before and during their clinic visit who works as a dedicated point of contact. This navigator is either a Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant who specializes in a patient’s cancer type. They are referred to as Advanced Practice Providers or APP’s.
Before a visit to the clinic, an APP will reach out to the patient to ensure they do not need any additional testing before being evaluated by the specialist team. If additional testing is needed the APP will arrange for tests to take place on the same day as the MDC appointment so that there is no need for the patient to come to the hospital more than once.
On the day of the MDC appointment, patients should expect to be at the hospital all day (with the exception of patients with esophageal and gastric cancers who will have a two-day clinic). At the end of the day, patients will leave with comprehensive treatment recommendations based on the combined expertise of 50 or more specialists.
What to expect after an MDC visit?
After the appointment at the MDC, patients can take the recommendations to their cancer care team, whether that team is on the Anschutz Campus, a clinic near their home, or anywhere in the world. This is advantageous because patients that live far away can sometimes find more straightforward cancer treatments close to home, while those with more involved needs may choose to work with some of the same experts on the MDC who contribute to their treatment plan.
Why go to an MDC?
Patients that go to an MDC have the opportunity to talk with doctors and other health specialists that are experts in their specific cancer type. And by meeting all at once rather than in a series of appointments over the course of days or weeks, this team approach decreases delays in starting therapy. Including experts in supportive care including dieticians, exercise therapists, and palliative care specialists ensures that every patient is treated as a whole person rather than being seen as just their disease.
Contact information for MDC’s:
Please call 1-844-4MULTI-D or visit the MDC website