The concept of a team in cancer management is essential to your receiving the best possible care. As recently as the 1970s much of cancer care was territorial - the surgeon or the radiation oncologist would feel that no other services were necessary to give a patient the best possibility for controlling or curing their cancer. Much has changed in the past 30 years: the development of effective chemotherapy, giving us a third approach for caring for and curing cancer patients; new technologies for prevention and early diagnosis that rolled back the boundaries of what we could cure; and the adoption of a comprehensive approach to cancer management that recognizes clear evidence that patients are cared for better when all the disciplines that can influence a patient’s well-being and outcome - surgery; radiation oncology; medical oncology (chemotherapy and biological therapies), primary care; psychiatry, psychology, and social work for supporting patients and family members; integrate their efforts according to rigorously-tested evidence that maps the road to the best outcomes. The best care unifies all these professionals in a cooperative effort to support and care for their patients through treatments that have been rigorously tested and shown to be effective.
Cancer treatment requires that everything that can be known about the disease and the patient should be known - what kind of cancer, exactly where it can be shown to be, and the risks it may present for hidden involvement in other areas. It also requires that each professional discipline contributes in a way that is effective against the cancer, preserves normal function as much as possible, anticipates and deals with other health problems the patient may have, supports that patient and his family emotionally, and respects the patient's needs, wishes, and values. This is the comprehensive approach to which all contemporary cancer care - and we - subscribe. In practice, this means applying and staying current with the ever-growing body of knowledge the exact dose to be given, over what period of time, to how large a volume of the body, how that dose should be integrated with chemotherapy and surgery, and how to reduce or mitigate the risks of aggressive treatment. Not meeting these objectives reduces the treatment effectiveness.