Caring for Neuroendocrine/Carcinoid patients is very complicated. There are multiple aspects of the disease which affect quality and quantity of life. That's why a multidisciplinary medical team is so important.
The goals of the team are: 1. to reduce the morbidity and mortality, 2. improve satisfaction, 3. enhance coordination of service, 4. provide access to evidence-based treatment, and 5. reduce costs of care.
Having a multidisciplinary approach to the problem is important to producing the best treatment plan. While each case may require different elements of expertise, the usual people involved include: a surgeon, oncologist, pathologist, radiologist; depending on the status of the disease, it will also include an interventional radiologist, gastroenterologist, pulmonologist, endocrinologist, nursing, nuclear medicine physician, cardio-thoracic surgeon, cardiologist, nutritionist, and psychiatrist.
The challenge is getting them all together to review a case. Having the core people is the most important. Usually large medical centers utilize this multidisciplinary approach. People with complementary skill sets may have different thoughts on a case, and hopefully engage in good discussion to find the best treatment plan. Sometimes having different eyes on the patient is helpful, especially with very difficult cases.
As a patient, the best you can do is to educate yourself, ask lots of questions, keep detailed records, find a NET specialist, commune with other patients, and keep a positive spirit. Those things with the right team will always help.
Happy NET Awareness Day!
Eric Liu, M.D., Neuroendocrine Specialist