During your child’s cancer treatment, you’ll meet many different people who all work together to provide them with the best possible care. While in hospital, you may come into contact with a number of different professionals who all have some responsibility for your child or a young person's care. These people are known as a multi-disciplinary team (MDT).
The exact make-up of your team will depend on your child's age, the type of cancer they have, and the hospital they are at.
The team may include:
A senior doctor will take the lead in your child’s diagnosis and treatment. They may be known as a specialist or a consultant or have some other title. They will usually specialise in the type of cancer that your child has been diagnosed with. You may not see this person every time you visit the hospital – sometimes you might see other doctors on the consultant’s team who are at different levels of their specialist training. There are several different types of consultants you may meet:
This is a specialist in childhood cancer who is usually based in a regional centre. In district hospitals, you may become more familiar with a local paediatrician (a specialist in the medical care of children and young people) who works in consultation with the paediatric oncologist.
A doctor who specialises in blood disorders, including leukaemia and lymphoma.
This doctor will specialise in the type of surgery related to your child's condition.
A medical oncologist is a specialist in delivering chemotherapy drugs to treat cancers.
Oncology pharmacists specialise in the drugs used to treat cancer. They will be able to give you detailed advice about the side-effects of a particular drug, and let you know how certain drugs work together. They can also help your child's specialists with prescribing drugs to control things like pain or nausea.
Radiotherapists are doctors who specialise in treating cancer with radiation. If they are also specialists in using chemotherapy and other drug treatments, they might be known as a clinical oncologist.
A therapeutic radiographer is the person who operates the machine that gives radiotherapy treatment.
A radiologist is a doctor who specialises in interpreting x-rays or scans to help with diagnosis or treatment.
A diagnostic radiographer is the person who operates the machines that take x-rays or scans.
Teenage and young adult multi-disciplinary team (TYA MDT)
A team of health and social care professionals who specialise in the treatment of young people with cancer. They are available to advise hospital MDTs of 16 to 24-year-olds to help ensure they get the most appropriate treatment, care and support.
They carry out day-to-day care and provide ongoing treatment, including giving injections and taking blood samples.
These are nurses who have had extra training in certain areas of care. The type of specialist nurses may vary between hospital teams. Your team may include:
- Paediatric specialist nurses who support children with cancer and leukaemia
- Teenage and young adult specialist nurses who support older children, teenagers and young people up to the age of 24 years
- Cancer site specific nurses who support people with a specific type of cancer, such as a lymphoma nurse specialist or a sarcoma nurse specialist
- Late effects nurse specialists who support children and young people through any long-term effects of their treatment.
Community or district nurse
These nurses provide care at home and any medication your child may need.
These doctors, under the supervision of the oncologist, will do most of your child's tests and treatments.
They care for your child when they are back at home. The consultant will keep the GP informed about your child's treatment.
Pain control team
Your child's pain team are specialists in helping them with any pain or other symptoms, such as nausea or loss of appetite, caused by their cancer or its treatment.
The play specialist will organise therapeutic play and other activities to help younger children through their treatment, and also to prepare for specific treatments such as radiotherapy, surgery, high-dose chemotherapy or a transplant.
If your child is older, their case may also be referred to and discussed by regional teenage and young adult multidisciplinary teams, who specialise in caring for people in this age group.
The dietitian will provide nutritional advice to help children and young people deal with their treatment and any side-effects.
A physiotherapist is a specialist in using exercise and activities to help children and young people during their treatment and also to help them recover physically afterwards.
An occupational therapist can help maintain the physical and psychological skills that your child needs to continue with their day-to-day life.
It is quite normal for cancer to affect children emotionally as well as physically. There may be a psychologist available at your treatment hospital to help children deal with their diagnosis, treatment and its long-term effects.
Your social worker is a specialist in providing you and your family with emotional and practical support following your child's cancer diagnosis through treatment and beyond. They will co-ordinate the non-medical aspects of your child's care and help you manage education, employment and financial issues.
January 2015, next planned review 2017.