The medical team
Your first appointment at the hospital is likely to be with a colorectal surgeon and a specialist colorectal nurse. They are part of a specialist colorectal multidisciplinary team (MDT).
The team is lead by at least one consultant and brings together all the key people involved in your care. Your case will be presented and various treatment options will be discussed at one of the MDT’s regular meetings, to ensure you are offered the best possible care and support during your treatment. Your consultant or specialist nurse will let you know the outcome of these discussions.
Typically, the team will involve the following staff:
- Colorectal Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) have specialist qualifications to manage and care for patients with bowel cancer. Nurse consultants or nurse practitioners have additional qualifications at a very advanced level. This nurse is usually your key worker, the first point of contact if you have any queries or concerns.
- Colorectal Surgeons are doctors who have specialised in colorectal surgery and perform operations and other surgical procedures (including biopsies) to diagnose and treat bowel cancer.
- Consultant Medical and Clinical Oncologists are doctors who are skilled in treating patients with chemotherapy and targeted therapies. Clinical oncologists also specialise in radiotherapy.
- Consultant surgeons and oncologists are supported by Specialist Registrars – qualified doctors who are gaining more experience and developing their skills within a specialist area.
- Diagnostic Radiologists are doctors who use X-rays and scanners such as ultrasound, CT, PET and MRI to locate and measure the extent of a cancer.
- Histopathologists are specialist doctors who use microscopic equipment to examine and identify samples of tissue and confirm a diagnosis.
- Stoma Nurse Specialists provide practical guidance on stomas, as well as valuable emotional support.
In addition, these healthcare professionals can offer support in the hospital or in the community:
- Oncology Nurse Specialists are nurses with additional qualifications in the care and management of people needing chemotherapy.
- Research Nurses help recruit patients for clinical trials.
- Dieticians and Nutritionists are experts in food and nutrition and can advise patients on how to deal with some of the dietary effects of cancer and treatment.
- Gastroenterologists are doctors who specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders and diseases of the digestive system.
- Occupational Therapists help people find ways of coping and adapting following an illness and are able to offer practical and psychological support to people to maintain their independence.
- Palliative Care Specialists are doctors or nurses with additional experience in supporting patients and families and managing symptoms to improve quality of life for patients with very advanced cancer.
- Pharmacists advise and support your team with chemotherapy treatments, as well as dispensing prescriptions. They can also give advice of taking medications and possible side-effects.
- Physiotherapists help patients regain strength and mobility after treatment.
- Psychologists/psychiatrists are doctors who help people cope with emotional and personal matters following their diagnosis.
- Therapeutic Radiographers plan and deliver radiotherapy treatment and provide medical and emotional support during the treatment.
- Counsellors help people to deal with emotional issues and problems.
Updated August 2018. Due for review March 2019.