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Study backs multi-disciplinary cancer team approach

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Survival rates for women who have undergone surgery for breast cancer are improved if decisions are made as part of a healthcare team, including nurses, rather than an individual doctor, according to a new study.

The research from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde shows decision-making by teams made up of surgeons, cancer physicians and nurses is likely to improve survival following surgery for breast cancer.

The health board said that before the introduction of multi-disciplinary care in 1995, breast cancer mortality was 11% higher than in the surrounding west of Scotland health board areas.

Eileen Kesso, project manager, carried out the study and found survival was 18% higher in patients managed in Glasgow when decisions about their care were made by a group rather than an individual doctor.

She said: “Multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) were introduced in Greater Glasgow Health Board in the mid-1990s, several years before the rest of the UK.

“They marked a new development in the delivery of cancer services but until now there has not been any strong evidence that they made any difference to patients’ survival.”

The study, carried out at the West of Scotland Cancer Surveillance Unit, compared breast cancer survival in the greater Glasgow area to the rest of the west of Scotland.

It found survival was poorer in Glasgow in the early 1990s but after team decision-making through MDTs were introduced in 1995, survival was nearly 20% higher in Glasgow compared with other areas.

The teams, comprising a range of specialists, use evidence-based guidelines, audit their performance and meet regularly to discuss how patients should be treated.

The study found survival from breast cancer improved in all areas throughout the 1990s but it improved even more in Glasgow after team decision-making was introduced.


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