Who might I meet?

A team of specialists will plan your surgery and support you before, during and after treatment. This is your multidisciplinary team (MDT). It can include:

  • your surgeon
  • other specialist doctors, such as a cancer doctor (oncologist)
  • a specialist nurse
  • other health professionals depending on your type of surgery.

You may not meet everyone in the MDT but together they help plan your treatment.

Before your surgery you will meet your surgeon. You may be treated by a surgeon at your local hospital. But with certain cancers you may have to go to a specialist surgeon at a hospital further away. You may be given the name of someone to contact for information and support throughout your treatment. This person is sometimes called a keyworker and may be your specialist nurse.

You may also meet other specialists depending on your individual needs. For example, you may meet a physiotherapist who will show you how you can prevent joint and muscle stiffness after your surgery.

Your multidisciplinary team (MDT)

In most hospitals , a team of specialists will meet to discuss and agree on the plan of treatment they feel is best for your situation. This team is known as a multidisciplinary team (MDT). We’ve listed the staff who are involved in planning and giving your surgery below.


The surgeon

To diagnose your cancer, you may be seen by a surgeon at your local hospital. For example, you’ll see a breast surgeon for suspected breast cancer or a gastrointestinal surgeon for suspected colon cancer.

Certain cancers require more specialised surgeons who are skilled at particular surgical techniques. This may mean that you have to be referred to a specialist cancer hospital, possibly some distance from where you live.

If you want to know about the referral process planned for you, you can talk to your GP. They can explain the procedure and, if necessary, refer you for another surgical opinion. You can also ask your surgeon if they specialise in surgery for your particular type of cancer and what experience they have.


Nurses

Some outpatient clinics have nurses who give information about the treatment and side effects. They may also give advice on skin care and medicines to manage side effects.

Many cancer centres have specialist cancer nurses, sometimes called clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), who have expert knowledge about your type of cancer. They are a good source of support and information during your treatment.


Your key worker or contact person

Usually one of the nurses who look after you will be named as your key worker. This is the person to contact if you need more information or support. If you’re not sure who your key worker is, ask someone at your next appointment.


Other members of the MDT

Physiotherapist

Some people may see a physiotherapist during their treatment. They can show you exercises to help prevent muscle and joint stiffness.

Dietitian

A dietitian can give you advice if you have problems eating and drinking because of your surgery– for example, if you have a dry mouth.

Social worker

Social workers can give advice about any non-medical problems you have, including practical and financial help. For example, some people can claim travel expenses and others may be eligible for a grant from a charity. Social workers can also provide or arrange counselling and emotional support for you and your family. If necessary, they can refer you to local support services that can help you at home. You can ask to see a social worker if you think this would be helpful.

Counsellors

Counsellors are available in some hospitals. If you feel that speaking to a counsellor would be helpful, ask the staff looking after you to arrange an appointment.


Back to Surgery explained

What is surgery and what is it used for?

Surgery is cutting away body tissue. It is used to treat lots of types of cancer.

What happens before the surgery?

Your surgery will be carefully planned to make sure you are well cared for.

What happens after surgery?

You’ll be monitored very closely after your operation. You will be very tired so it’s important to rest and look after yourself.

Follow-up care after surgery

You will have follow-up appointments after your surgery to check on your recovery and any new symptoms.