Gastrointestinal Tumor Board: An Evolving Experience in Tehran Cancer Institute
Gastrointestinal (GI) cancers are a significant source of morbidity and mortality in Iran, with stomach adenocarcinoma as the most common cancer in men and the second common cancer in women. Also, some parts of Northern Iran have one of the highest incidences of esophageal cancer in the world. Multi-disciplinary organ-based joint clinics and tumor boards are a well-recognized necessity for modern treatment of cancer and are routinely utilized in developed countries, especially in major academic centres. But this concept is relatively new in developing countries, where cancer treatment centres are burdened by huge loads of patients and have to cope with a suboptimum availability of resources and facilities. Cancer Institute of Tehran University of Medical Sciences is the oldest and the only comprehensive cancer treatment centre in Iran, with a long tradition of a general tumor board for all cancers. But with the requirements of modern oncology, there has been a very welcome attention to sub-specialized organ-based tumor boards and joint clinics here in the past few years. Considering this, we started a multi-disciplinary tumor board for GI cancers in our institute in early 2010 as the first such endeavor here. We hereby review this 2-year evolving experience. The process of establishment of a GI tumor board, participations from different oncology disciplines and related specialties, the cancers presented and discussed in the 2 years of this tumor board, the general intents of treatment for the decisions made and the development of interest in this tumor board among the Tehran oncology community will be reviewed. The GI tumor board of Tehran Cancer Institute started its work in January 2010, with routine weekly sessions. A core group of 2 physicians from each surgical, radiation and medical oncology departments plus one gastroenterologist, GI pathologist and radiologist was formed, but participation from all interested physicians was encouraged. An electronic database was kept from the beginning. The number of patients presented in the tumor board increased from 4 in January 2010 to 16 in December 2011. Most patients were presented by radiation oncology department (38%) and then surgical (36%) and medical oncology (20%) departments. Physicians' participation also grew from an average of 8 each session to 12 in the same months, with a number of cancer specialists taking part from other university hospitals in Tehran. A total number of 225 patients were presented with a treatment decision made in this 2-year period. The majority of cases were colorectal (32%), stomach (23%), and esophageal (17%) cancers. The number of pancreatic (7%) and hepatobiliary (6%) cancers were much smaller. Most decisions were for a primary treatment (surgery or radiochemotherapy) and then a neoadjuvant approach. Tehran Cancer Institute's GI tumor board is one of the first multi-disciplinary organ-based tumor boards in Iran, and as such has made a successful start, establishing itself as a recognized body for clinical decisions and consultations in GI oncology. This experience is growing and evolving, with newer presentation and discussion formats and adapted guidelines for treatment of GI cancers in Iran sought.
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