Healthcare team members
This page explains the roles of some of the key professionals involved in treating pancreatic cancer. Anyone diagnosed with pancreatic cancer should have their case reviewed at a specialist cancer centre where there is a specialist pancreatic cancer team. This is called the multidisciplinary team (MDT).
The multidisciplinary team (MDT)
The multidisciplinary team (MDT) is the team of health professionals responsible for your treatment and care. They will agree on the best treatment and care for you, and should involve you in these decisions.
The health professionals most likely to be involved are listed here.
- Specialist nurse (also called a clinical nurse specialist or CNS) - a nurse who provides expert care and advice about a condition, such as pancreatic cancer.
- Gastroenterologist - a doctor who treats diseases of the digestive system, including the pancreas.
- Oncologist - a doctor who treats cancer with treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
- Surgeon - a doctor who carries out surgery.
- Dietitian - a professional who provides expert advice about diet and nutrition, including managing the symptoms of pancreatic cancer related to diet.
- Radiologist - a doctor who uses x-rays to diagnose and treat disease.
You may not meet all of the MDT, and you won’t need to be present at the MDT meetings. You may also see other health professionals at different stages.
You will be given a main contact, who will usually be a specialist nurse. They will help support you, and coordinate your care. They will be the person you speak to most. If you haven’t been given a specialist nurse or a main contact, ask your doctor about this. If you aren’t sure who to speak to then the first people to ask are the specialist nurse or consultant (doctor) in the multidisciplinary team. You can also speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line.
If you have cancer can’t be cured, you may see a specialist palliative care team or supportive care team. These teams help people to live as well as possible for as long as possible, and help to manage complex symptoms such as pain.
Other health professionals you might see
General practitioner (GP). The GP will help manage your cancer. For example, they may help manage some symptoms, and can refer you for other medical services. They may be your main contact if you are being cared for at home.
Community nursing service. There are different nurses who can provide support and care locally in the community.
- Community or district nurse – provide nursing care in people’s homes, including giving medication and pain control.
- Palliative care nurse – nurses who specialise in managing pain and other symptoms.
- Macmillan nurse – nurses who specialise in an area of cancer care. For example, Macmillan chemotherapy nurses give chemotherapy. Some Macmillan nurses are palliative care nurses – but not all.
- Hospice nurse – provide palliative care and support at a hospice. They may also visit you at home.
- Marie Curie nurse – nurses who provide nursing care in your home, often overnight.
Occupational therapist. A professional who can help find ways to carry out everyday tasks that might be difficult, for example by recommending specific equipment or adaptations at home.
Physiotherapist. A professional who helps people cope with illness and manage symptoms through movement and exercise.
Hospital palliative care team. A team of professionals at the hospital who can help you manage your symptoms, and help you live as well as possible. The team may include doctors, specialist nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and counsellors.
Community palliative care team. Similar to the hospital palliative care team, but they may visit you at home or arrange an outpatient appointment to help you manage your symptoms. Some teams are based at hospices.
Questions to ask you healthcare team
- What treatment does the MDT recommend?
- Do I have a specialist nurse or a main contact? How do I contact them?
- What are the best contact details to use out of hours, or in an emergency?
- Where is my nearest specialist centre?
Updated September 2019
Review date September 2021