Doctor shows something with a pen to two seated colleagues on a lighted wall with x-rays.

Tumor conference – what role does it play?

Ima­gi­ne the doc­tor trea­ting you who is not sure about his dia­gno­sis when stu­dy­ing your radio­lo­gy fin­dings: Is it can­cer or just an inflamm­a­ti­on? This decis­i­on is very serious. Should this gre­at respon­si­bi­li­ty be pla­ced in the hands of a sin­gle per­son, regard­less of expe­ri­ence? Or is it per­haps bet­ter if such an important decis­i­on for the pati­ent is made by a team of doc­tors? Cli­nics ans­wer this ques­ti­on by estab­li­shing a tumor conference.

Tumor conferences — the decisive factor

In most onco­lo­gy cli­nics, tumor con­fe­ren­ces have been held on a weekly basis for seve­ral years. The tumor con­fe­rence takes place on the pre­mi­ses of a hos­pi­tal or in vir­tu­al pre­sence (online tumor con­fe­rence). Tog­e­ther they look at the radio­lo­gi­cal images and other fin­dings of sel­ec­ted cases. The doc­tor respon­si­ble pres­ents the patient’s medi­cal histo­ry to the tumor con­fe­rence with the ques­ti­on of the right the­ra­py decis­i­on. The head of the tumor con­fe­rence then mode­ra­tes and con­trols the dis­cus­sion and records the decis­i­on of the panel. At the tumor con­fe­ren­ces, expe­ri­en­ced phy­si­ci­ans from the onco­lo­gi­cal disci­pli­nes meet to dis­cuss the best the­ra­py for pati­ents in an inter­di­sci­pli­na­ry man­ner. They are accom­pa­nied by resi­dent phy­si­ci­ans and prac­ti­cal year stu­dents, who can learn some­thing new as part of the dis­cus­sion. If can­cer is par­ti­cu­lar­ly com­pli­ca­ted, a sin­gle doc­tor can quick­ly be on the ver­ge of being over­whel­med. The­r­e­fo­re, in many hos­pi­tals the­re are seve­ral sepa­ra­te spe­cia­list tumor con­fe­ren­ces (also cal­led tumor boards) in order to invol­ve experts from dif­fe­rent disci­pli­nes in the plan­ning of fur­ther steps. Joint decis­i­ons result in the best indi­vi­du­al the­ra­py con­cepts for patients.

The principle: all for one

It is pri­ma­ri­ly the pati­ent who bene­fits from the bund­ling of com­pe­ten­ces in the gyneco­lo­gi­cal tumor con­fe­rence. Tumor con­fe­rence pati­ents often recei­ve the most modern the­ra­pies, some­ti­mes as part of cli­ni­cal stu­dies. Even if you can­not take part in per­son for orga­niza­tio­nal reasons (data pro­tec­tion), ever­y­thing revol­ves around your ill­ness during the con­fe­rence. Rapid, inter­di­sci­pli­na­ry dis­cus­sion and con­side­ra­ti­on of all aspects of the dise­a­se and per­spec­ti­ves means that effec­ti­ve the­ra­py can be star­ted more quick­ly. All the know­ledge and expe­ri­ence of the phy­si­ci­ans pre­sent are thus bund­led. The joint­ly made the­ra­py recom­men­da­ti­ons are recor­ded in pro­to­cols and sub­se­quent­ly dis­cus­sed with the patients.

Why is that important?

The tumor con­fe­ren­ces are the start­ing point for effec­ti­ve tre­at­ment and the key to the best pos­si­ble coor­di­na­ted mul­ti-pro­fes­sio­nal dia­gno­stics. Also and in par­ti­cu­lar the sub­se­quent the­ra­py of mali­gnant dise­a­ses (can­cer dise­a­ses) is based on the tumor con­fe­rence. Can­cer is a com­plex and very com­pre­hen­si­ve dise­a­se. More and more tech­ni­cal­ly high­ly spe­cia­li­zed devices, advan­ces in medi­ci­nes and sci­en­ti­fic know­ledge enable a good chan­ce of reco­very nowa­days. But this who­le varie­ty of pro­ce­du­res that sup­port the dia­gno­sis can­not be over­seen by a sin­gle doc­tor. The­re are too many pos­si­bi­li­ties of ima­ging, patho­lo­gi­cal, mole­cu­lar gene­tic and other opti­ons. For this reason, gui­de­lines in the sen­se of evi­dence-based medi­ci­ne have been included in the tumor con­fe­rence. This means that dis­cus­sions and decis­i­ons must be based on sci­en­ti­fic results and facts. It is also important that the sur­ge­on does not deci­de on an ope­ra­ti­on alo­ne, the radio­the­ra­pist does not alo­ne deci­de on radia­ti­on and no onco­lo­gist sim­ply deci­des on che­mo­the­ra­py wit­hout having che­cked tog­e­ther whe­ther the ope­ra­ti­on and radio­the­ra­py would not be the bet­ter alternatives.

Pioneer university medicine

Inter­di­sci­pli­na­ry tumor con­fe­ren­ces have their ori­g­ins in uni­ver­si­ty medi­ci­ne. Spe­cia­li­zed inter­di­sci­pli­na­ry can­cer cen­ters (so-cal­led Com­pre­hen­si­ve Can­cer Cen­ters, CCC) have been estab­lished. The thin­king behind it: Can­cer dise­a­ses are so com­plex that seve­ral disci­pli­nes should be invol­ved. In order to reflect this orga­niza­tio­nal­ly, the CCCs deve­lo­ped, which have now beco­me the “stan­dard” for can­cer cen­ters. For reasons of trans­pa­ren­cy and qua­li­ty, com­pli­ance with the the­ra­py recom­men­da­ti­ons can be tra­cked through docu­men­ta­ti­on in the cli­ni­cal can­cer regis­ter of the respec­ti­ve CCC. The future of can­cer medi­ci­ne for the best tre­at­ment lies in mul­ti-pro­fes­sio­nal teamwork.

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Fol­low Prof. Jalid Seh­ouli — Direc­tor of the Women’s Cli­nic at the Cha­ri­té Virch­ow-Kli­ni­kum on Insta­gram ( ) to learn more about can­cer in gyneco­lo­gy. In small info­gra­phics you will be infor­med about cur­rent topics and sci­en­ti­fic findings.

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