Multidisciplinary management of cancer patients: chasing a shadow or real value? An overview of the literature

Curr Oncol. 2012 Aug;19(4):e232-8. doi: 10.3747/co.19.944.


Purpose: Multidisciplinary cancer conferences (mccs) are designed to optimize patient outcomes. It appears intuitive that mccs are essential to clinical decision-making and patient management; however, it is unclear whether that belief is supported by evidence. Our objectives were to assess the currently published literature addressing the impact of mccs on clinical decision-making and patient outcomes.

Methods: Ovid medline was searched from 1950 to June 2010 using these keywords: "multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary/clinical meeting$/conference$/round$/team$," "decision making," "neoplasms$/cancer$/oncology/tumo(u)r conference$/board$/meeting$," "multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary cancer conference$/meeting$." All trials, guidelines, metaanalyses, reviews, and prospective and retrospective studies were included.

Results: The keywords retrieved 595 abstracts, and 30 manuscripts were obtained. Most of the studies assessed the impact of mccs on clinical decision-making rather than on patient outcomes.

Conclusions: Available evidence supports the belief that mccs significantly influence clinical decision-making and treatment recommendations. In contrast, scant evidence suggests that mccs improve patient outcomes. Unfortunately, the current literature is substantially heterogeneous and therefore does not allow for firm conclusions.

Keywords: Multidisciplinary clinical conferences; cancer management; clinical decision-making; patient outcomes; tumour boards.