Who might I meet?

A team of specialists will plan your surgery. They will 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). Below is a list of the staff who are likely to be involved in your surgery.


The surgeon

To diagnose your cancer, you may be seen by a surgeon at your local hospital. Different surgeons specialise in different types of surgery. For example, you will see a breast surgeon for suspected breast cancer or a gastrointestinal surgeon for suspected colon cancer.

With some cancers, you may need to see a more specialised surgeon who is skilled at particular surgical techniques. This may mean that you will 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, talk to your GP. They can explain the procedure and, if necessary, refer you for another surgical opinion. When you meet the surgeon, you can also ask them if they specialise in surgery for the type of cancer you have 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, often called clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), who have expert knowledge about the type of cancer you have. They are a good source of support and information during your treatment.


Your key worker or contact person

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


Other members of the MDT

Radiologist

This a doctor who specialises in interpreting scans, such as CT (computerised tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans and x-rays. This is important in helping the surgeon plan your surgery.

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.

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 may be able to give or arrange counselling and emotional support for you and your family. They can also 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 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 talk about any concerns.