Your medical team

This page explains the roles of some of the key professionals involved in treating pancreatic cancer.

The multidisciplinary team (MDT)

If you are having treatment such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, your case should be reviewed by a pancreatic multidisciplinary team (MDT) at a specialist centre. The MDT is the team of health professionals who are 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 recommend.

Your team should include a specialist nurse, sometimes called a clinical nurse specialist (CNS). They will be your main contact. They will provide expert support, care and advice. Not everyone will have a CNS. If you don’t, ask for details of who to contact with questions or concerns.

You may meet other members of the team, including:

  • an oncologist – a doctor who is an expert in treating cancer
  • a gastroenterologist – a specialist in diseases of the digestive system, including the stomach, intestines, pancreas and liver
  • a dietitian – a professional who provides advice about diet and nutrition
  • a patient care coordinator – who works with the medical team to coordinate your care. They may not be available in all hospitals, or may be called different things.

You may also see other health professionals at different stages.

Who is my main contact?

Your clinical nurse specialist (CNS) will be your main contact. 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, including:

  • 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.

Other professionals who can support you

  • Counsellor. A professional who helps people deal with emotional problems by helping them talk through issues and find solutions. Also called a therapist.
  • Social worker. A professional who helps people deal with problems such as living independently, improving their wellbeing or accessing welfare support.
  • Clinical psychologist. A professional who treats people with emotional (psychological) problems to reduce their distress and improve their emotional wellbeing.
  • Psychiatrist. A doctor who treats people with mental health problems through medicines and recommending other treatments such as counselling.

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?
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“Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Doctors and medical professionals understand and will do everything they can to provide support.”

Updated November 2022

Review date November 2025