The team of people providing your care will depend on how your cancer will be treated and your needs.

Your multidisciplinary team

This group of specialists is called a multidisciplinary team and will include some of the following people:

  • Oncologists, who specialise in using anticancer drugs and radiotherapy to treat cancer
  • Surgeons, who may be specialists in particular areas of the body such as the bone (orthopaedic surgeon) or brain (neurosurgeon)
  • A radiologist, who specialises in imaging to diagnose and monitor cancer
  • A breast care nurse or clinical nurse specialist, who specialises in providing care and support to cancer patients

You might also receive treatment and care from other people, including:

  • A palliative care nurse, who specialises in care to reduce the symptoms of cancer and to improve your quality of life
  • Your GP, who can provide and organise some types of care for you
  • A district nurse, who can provide care and treatment for you at home or locally
  • A counsellor, occupational therapist or psychologist, who can provide advice and emotional support
  • A physiotherapist or other specialists in rehabilitation, to help you regain movement and keep active

You may see different specialists in different hospitals. New specialists may join your team or be consulted when needed.

How your team should work together with you

Throughout your care, everyone caring for you should communicate with you honestly and compassionately. You should always be treated with kindness, dignity and respect, and feel supported.

Having a number of specialists involved in your care at different times (and possibly at different locations) helps you get the very best care, but can be hard at times. Some patients find it frustrating or upsetting to have to repeat their story to new doctors.

Your treatment team should do their very best to plan your care consistently and to ensure you have continued support.

The main people involved in your care (the multidisciplinary team) should ideally meet and discuss key decisions together.

You should be assigned a breast care nurse (you may know this person as a ‘key worker’, ‘clinical nurse specialist’ or ‘Macmillan nurse’), who is your first point of contact throughout your care.

The nurse can coordinate your care, ensure you get the care and support you need, and provide information and support to you directly. Some nurses specialise in secondary breast cancer.

All patients in England should be assigned a nurse. At Breast Cancer Now, we believe a nurse is really important and we’re encouraging all hospitals to make sure every secondary breast cancer patient in their care has one.

There aren’t national standards regarding assigning nurses in Scotland. Many patients do get the support of an assigned nurse, but some areas may find it difficult to provide one for every patient.

At Breast Cancer Now, we believe an assigned nurse is really important and we’re encouraging all hospitals to make sure every secondary breast cancer patient in their care has one.

There aren’t national standards regarding assigned nurses in Wales. Many patients do get the support of an assigned nurse, but some areas may find it difficult to provide one for every patient.

At Breast Cancer Now, we believe an assigned nurse is really important and we’re encouraging all hospitals to make sure every secondary breast cancer patient in their care has one.

There aren’t national standards regarding assigned nurses in Northern Ireland. Many patients do get the support of an assigned nurse, but some areas may find it difficult to provide one for every patient.

At Breast Cancer Now, we believe an assigned nurse is really important and we’re encouraging all hospitals to make sure every secondary breast cancer patient in their care has one.

Tips and advice

Advice on getting the best care

To help you feel confident you’re getting the best care, you may want to:

  • Ask whether your treatment team is meeting together to discuss your care (in a multidisciplinary team meeting)
  • Ask who is involved in key decisions about your care
  • Ask to have a nurse assigned to you, who can be a consistent point of contact for you
  • Let your treatment team know if you’re feeling confused or frustrated about your care, and how they can help

Information Standard

Information last reviewed: October 2015

Breast Cancer Now's health information is covered by NHS England's Information Standard quality mark. Find out how this resource was developed.