About cancer

A specialist cancer team - multidisciplinary team (MDT)

Cancer treatment and care is provided by different kinds of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals working together as part of a specialist cancer team. This is often called the multidisciplinary team or MDT for short. Teams work together to share their expertise. They usually meet once a week to review all the new patients in the hospital or department, as well as any complicated existing patients, and discuss the best course of action.

You may not meet all of your cancer team together at one time and in larger teaching hospitals there will be many members of the team that you do not meet. You will however see different members who are relevant to your current treatment and care.

Each of the health professionals in your specialist cancer team has a different role, providing surgical, medical, practical or emotional help and support. The members of your team will depend on the type of cancer and on your individual needs.

The specialist team is likely to include some, if not all of the following doctors and nurses:

Surgeon

A Surgeon specialises in your type of cancer or the part of the body where your cancer is. Surgeons perform operations and other surgical procedures (including biopsies) to diagnose and treat cancer.

Physician

A Physician specialises in your type of cancer or the part of the body where your cancer is. 'Physician' is the general term for medical doctors (doctors who do not carry out surgery). There are many different kinds of physician for example, a chest physician, a pathologist or radiologist. More information about their roles can be found in our Types of hospital doctors explained section.

Oncologist

An Oncologist specialises in the medical treatment of cancer. A Clinical Oncologist specialises in treating people with cancer using radiotherapy and may also use chemotherapy and hormone therapy. A Medical Oncologist specialises in treating people with chemotherapy.

Specialist Nurse/ Clinical nurse specialist (CNS)

A specialist nurse has done additional training and has expertise in particular types of cancer or treatments. You can find out more about the different types of nurses in our Nurses in cancer care section.

Other healthcare professionals

There may be many other healthcare professionals involved  in your treatment and care and you can find out more about their roles in our Other professionals working in cancer care section.