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The role of multidisciplinary decision making in oropharyngeal cancer: do we follow guidelines and are treatment decisions being implemented?

Lookup NU author(s): David Hamilton


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© 2020, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature. Purpose: A multidisciplinary team (MDT) approach to cancer management is gold-standard. With an increasing disease incidence and growing research into human papillomavirus (HPV)-related oropharyngeal cancer (OPC), updated UK management guidelines were recently published. This study aimed to evaluate the MDT decision-making process among OPC patients at a tertiary centre. Methods: MDT meetings over a 12-month period were analysed retrospectively. MDT decisions were compared with guidelines and patient records examined to identify decision implementation. Reasons behind any discordant decisions were explored. Results: This study included 140 OPC patients. Thirty-three (23.6%) were not tested for HPV. Patients over 70 years with a smoking history treated palliatively were less likely to be tested (P = 0.017). Eighty-five percent of MDT decisions followed guidelines with the majority not complying (76.2%) related to patient comorbidity. Ten decisions (7.1%) were not implemented. Reasons included: Seven due to patient choice, of which four patients (57.1%) were only seen following the MDT meeting, and three due to clinician decisions as new clinical information emerged. Conclusion: The majority of MDT decisions followed guidelines and any discordant decisions were justifiable. Discussing management options with patients beforehand facilitates decision implementation as decisions can potentially change after seeing the patient. Progress is still needed with regards to HPV testing. Reasons for not testing could include subliminal decision-making among clinicians, and patients falling between centres. Crucially, the role of the MDT in head and neck cancer should be to ratify decisions rather than making them, hence the need to see patients prior to MDT discussion.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ghazal Asswad R, Alvi S, Davies K, Jones TM, Hamilton DW, Brammer C, Lancaster J, Loh C, Tandon S, Roland N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology

Year: 2020

Volume: 277

Pages: 947-952

Print publication date: 01/03/2020

Online publication date: 08/01/2020

Acceptance date: 30/12/2019

ISSN (print): 0937-4477

ISSN (electronic): 1434-4726

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s00405-019-05781-2


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