What is the Calaway-Young Cancer Center Tumor Board?

Twice a month, all physicians involved in a Calaway-Young Cancer Center patient’s care, such as oncologists, radiation oncologists and pathologists, gather together in a roundtable format to discuss new and recurrent cases. In this peer review process, the Tumor Board confirms initial diagnoses and creates individualized treatment plans. For existing cases undergoing active treatment, these meetings provide an opportunity for doctors to discuss other treatment options when needed.

The process starts when the patient’s primary care provider, or the physician who discovers the cancer – a surgeon or a urologist, for example – presents the case to the board. A picture of the microscopic biopsy cells is placed on the screen as well as all other imaging, such as CT scans, PET scans and M.R.I.s. After the board confirms the patient’s cancer diagnosis, everyone who touches that case has a chance to share their knowledge and recommendations. Finally, a plan is set in place for monitoring or removing the tumor, or for administering chemotherapy or radiation therapy, in accordance with the National Compressive Care Network (NCCN) Guideline for that specific cancer.

Nurse navigators will then set up the patient’s first appointments and produce documents outlining what the Tumor Board discussed and agreed upon. Physicians sign off and that document returns to the patient’s primary care provider so that everyone touching the patient’s case are on the same page.

“There are many nuances to cancer treatment,” says nurse navigator, Nicole Carroll. “But our role is essentially to help coordinate all medical opinions and provide direction and next steps for those with a cancer diagnosis.”

There is a major patient benefit of having all doctors, nurses and advocates in the same room, says Carroll.

“Patients feel reassured by having multiple eyes on their case, discussion on their cancer diagnosis and agreement about their care,” says Carroll. “We all have a chance to look at the same imaging, talk it out, get new information and be validated. We can share options and resources to provide a comprehensive, effective approach. The fact we have a Tumor Board makes our treatment plan that much stronger.”

In addition to the twice monthly Tumor Board meetings, which are open to all Valley View staff (for which they can earn continuing education credits), every week Calaway-Young Cancer Center nurses, physicians, pharmacists, clinical social workers and other essential team members meet to discuss individual cases, adding an extra layer of attention to Calaway-Young Cancer Center patients.

The Calaway-Young Cancer Center’s Tumor Board follows the NCCN Guidelines for suggested care, as do all the best cancer centers in the country. These guidelines include standards for treating specific cancers.

According the NCCN website, “the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology are composed of recommendations based on the best evidence available at the time they are derived. Because new data are published continuously, the NCCN Guidelines also are continuously updated and revised to reflect evolving data. The goal of the NCCN Guidelines is to help oncologists and other oncology health care professionals make the major clinical decisions encountered in managing their patients by providing ready access to the highest quality information available based on the evaluation of expert clinicians from NCCN Member Institutions.” -30-