September 1st 2004
The contemporary management of breast cancer is a complex endeavorthat requires a truly collaborative team approach, characterizedby ongoing communication and active information-sharing amongthe multiple disciplines involved. Programs designed to provide comprehensivebreast cancer management by a team of multidisciplinaryspecialists were introduced in the late 1970s and have been increasingslowly. Patients attending comprehensive breast centers receive carefrom a broad-based multidisciplinary team that most often includessurgeons, radiologists, pathologists, medical oncologists, radiationoncologists, plastic/reconstructive surgeons, primary care physicians,gynecologists, nurses, social workers, patient advocates, and geneticrisk counselors. At the heart of comprehensive, interdisciplinary breastcare is the consensus planning conference that brings together teammembers on a regular basis to discuss individual patient cases and developcomprehensive treatment plans. This interactive and dynamicforum has become integral to the interdisciplinary management of breastdiseases and results in an increased level of communication betweenthe participating health-care professionals and the patients they treat.Several professional organizations, most prominently the AmericanSociety of Breast Disease, promote and support an interdisciplinaryapproach to breast care.