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How a Tumor Board Gets You the Right Cancer Treatment

Tumor BoardCancer is a complex, complicated condition. So if you have a cancer diagnosis, you want as many people as possible working together to treat you. That’s why tumor boards exist — to allow practitioners to meet as a team to discuss difficult cancer cases and work out the best way to treat each patient.

Brian Burkey, MD, Vice Chairman of Head and Neck Surgery and Oncology at Cleveland Clinic, answers questions about how a tumor board improves care for people with cancer.

Q: What is the purpose of a tumor board?
A: Most of my patients come into the system through a general practitioner after experiencing hoarseness, a neck mass, or problems swallowing. They are sent to an ENT (a doctor who specializes in conditions of the head and neck) and then to a surgeon who specializes in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery). We operate for many things nowadays, so it could stop there..

But a tumor board is a multidisciplinary team effort. To have one person deciding on a treatment is difficult because they are only looking at it from their viewpoint. There are so many treatments available; the board helps choose the right treatment for each patient.

Q: Who is on a tumor board?