A multidisciplinary team (MDT) is made up of various professionals, sometimes from more than one hospital. The exact set-up of the team differs slightly from one hospital to another. However, MDT members have specialist knowledge in different areas of care and support. They meet regularly to discuss and plan your treatment, taking your individual needs into account.
The person who has overall responsibility for your care is a doctor who is either a clinical oncologist or a consultant haematologist. They work closely with the other members of the MDT.
You usually have a ‘key worker’, a person you can call for advice or if you have any questions or worries. Your key worker is a member of the MDT, usually your lymphoma/haematology clinical nurse specialist (CNS). You should be given their name and contact details. If you have not been given this information, ask for it.
Although you see some members of your MDT regularly, you will not meet all of them.
In addition, some professionals are only involved in your care occasionally, as and when they are needed.
The people involved in your care might include:
Pathologist – a doctor who looks at samples of your biopsy under a microscope and does tests on them to find out what type of lymphoma you have.
Support worker – a support worker liaises closely with your keyworker to assist you, practically and emotionally, with cancer-related issues. These might include with any concerns about treatment side-effects and where to park when you go to medical appointments. They can help you access various sources of support, both within the hospital and in the community. A support worker may also help you to re-gain your ‘normal’ routine and sense of control, particularly once you finish treatment.
Medical oncologist – a doctor who specialises in treating people who have cancer.
Haematologist – a doctor who specialises in diseases of the blood, including lymphoma.
Clinical oncologist or radiotherapist – a doctor who specialises in treating people who have cancer with radiotherapy.
Specialist nurse – a nurse who specialises in looking after people with lymphoma. They can help you understand more about the disease and its treatment. Your specialist nurse (sometimes called a clinical nurse specialist or CNS) is usually also your key worker.
Research nurse / clinical research practitioner – someone who can provide information, answer questions, and monitor your progress if you are taking part in a clinical trial.
Dietitian – a health professional who can offer you advice on what to eat if you need to follow a special diet. They can also provide you with nutritional information and monitor your progress if you are taking part in a clinical trial.
Social worker – a professional who can help with non-medical needs. This could include arranging assistance with housework or helping you to find information about financial support.
Occupational therapist – a health professional who can organise special equipment to help you manage at home, such as stair-rails or bathing aids.
Physiotherapist – a health professional who can help with physical problems and pain. They use techniques such as exercises and massage to help you build back up your range of movement.
Psychologists and counsellors – professionals who can help with your feelings and the emotional impact of your diagnosis and treatment.
Palliative care specialist – a doctor or nurse who specialises in controlling pain and other symptoms. They are most likely to be involved if your lymphoma is no longer being actively treated. They can support your emotional and spiritual needs, too.
Additional members of the MDT for children and young people
Young people aged 16–24 years old have an additional teenage and young adult multi-disciplinary team (TYA MDT). This team consists of health and social care professionals who specialise in the treatment of young people with cancer.
The TYA MDT can advise health professionals within the hospital MDT of the unique needs of young adults to help ensure they get the most appropriate treatment, care and support.
Children and young people’s social worker – a professional who can help with non-medical needs including emotional wellbeing and support with practical things such as applying for benefits, education and employment.
Play specialist – someone trained to work, using play, with young children, to help them understand more about their diagnosis and treatment.
Young person’s community worker – provides support to young people with cancer in the young person’s community. They aim to build resilience, social connections and help to manage issues relating to education and employment.
Youth support worker – someone who can arrange fun activities on the hospital ward. They may also organise social outings away from the hospital environment. You may hear this role called something else, such as a ‘youth support coordinator’.
CLIC Sargent have more information about the various professionals involved in care for children and young people.