Multidisciplinary tumor boards (MDTBs) are universally recommended, but recent literature has challenged their efficiency.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conducted a survey of a randomly selected cohort of international ASCO members. The survey was built on SurveyMonkey and was sent via e-mail to a sample of 5,357 members.
In all, 501 ASCO members practicing outside the United States responded, and 86% of them participated in MDTBs at their own institutions. Those who attended represented a variety of disciplines in 70% to 86% of all MDTBs. The majority of MDTBs held weekly specialty and/or general meetings. Eighty-nine percent of 409 respondents attended for advice on treatment decisions. Survey respondents reported changes of 1% to 25% in treatment plans for 44% to 49% of patients with breast cancer and in 47% to 50% of patients with colorectal cancer. They reported 25% to 50% changes in surgery type and/or treatment plans for 14% to 21% of patients with breast cancer and 12% to 18% of patients with colorectal cancer. Of the 430 respondents 96% said overall benefit to patients was worth the time and effort spent at MDTBs, and 96% said that MDTBs have teaching value. Mini tumor boards held with whatever types of specialists were available were considered valid. In all, 94.8% (425 of 448) said that MDTBs should be required in institutions in which patients with cancer are treated.
MDTBs are commonplace worldwide. A majority of respondents attend them to obtain recommendations, and they report changes in patient management. Change occurred more frequently with nonmedical oncologists and with physicians who had less than 15 years in practice. MDTBs helped practitioners make management decisions. Mini tumor boards may improve time efficiency and are favored when the full team is not available. Suggestions for improving MDTBs included making them more efficient, better selection and preparation of cases, choosing an effective team leader, and improving how time is used, but more research is needed on ways to improve the efficiency of MDTBs.