Your medical team

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. Your doctor or nurse should tell you what the MDT have decided.

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.
  • Oncologist – a doctor who is an expert in treating cancer with treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
  • Surgeon – a doctor who carries out surgery.
  • Gastroenterologist – a doctor who treats diseases of the digestive system, including the pancreas.
  • 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.

Who is my main contact?

Your medical team should include a specialist nurse (sometimes called a clinical nurse specialist or CNS). They are your main contact and may be the person that you speak to the most. They will provide expert support, care and advice and will coordinate your care. If you haven’t been given a specialist nurse or a main contact, ask your doctor about this.

You can also speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line.

What can I do?

  • If you don’t have a clinical nurse specialist, ask your doctor to refer you to one.
  • Ask about the best way to contact your nurse with any questions.
  • Talk to your nurse about your symptoms, feelings or worries.
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask your doctor or nurse.
  • Ask who you should contact out of normal hospital hours or in an emergency.
  • Take someone with you to your appointment, and ask them to take write down key things your doctor or nurse says.

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.

Specialist palliative care team

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.

  • 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 your medical team


  • Am I being treated at a specialist pancreatic cancer centre?
  • Is my case being reviewed by a specialist pancreatic cancer centre?
  • Will I have a named clinical nurse specialist?
  • How can I contact my nurse?
  • Who do I contact if I need to speak to someone in an emergency, or out of normal hospital hours?
  • What treatment does the MDT recommend?

Updated September 2020

Review date September 2022