The interdisciplinary treatment rises in Oncology around the 70s, with the rationale that a systemic treatment improves the rate of long survivals which were until then reported by surgery monotherapy or radiotherapy. It is also the first time the damage organ is preserved (in this case the larynges) with the rationalization of available therapeutic technics. These achievements increased the interest of every specialist dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Since then, several Tumour Committees have emerged in Spain and nowadays the vast majority of hospitals, including private hospitals, have adopted them becoming the quality trend in its practical assistance.
The interdisciplinary work is the key to guarantee the success of cancer treatment. This fact has proven to be very important in Head & Neck cancer. It is estimated that a Tumour Committee changes doctor’s decision at least in 1 of every 4 cases presented. The impact of multidisciplinary teams has been demonstrated over the indicators of clinic quality: increase the adherence to the treatment, reduction of intervals between diagnoses – treatment. There is data corroborating the impact on survival which results in taking the decision to treat a patient with Head & Neck cancer in an interdisciplinary way.
The Oncology Cooperative Groups are independent groups (also called academic), usually associated with one kind of tumour or a group of tumours in a specific area of the human body. They have been created with the purpose of implementing the handling and information related to the tumour as well as rapidly bringing into action the progress and innovation in their field. In Spain, researches in different fields have worked together for over 20 years to promote clinical investigation, epidemiological and traslacional academic. These associations originated the Cooperative Groups which operate as solid networks of independent cancer investigation. Until now these organizations have been slightly interdisciplinary.
On this ground, The Spanish Cooperative Group for the treatment of Head & Neck Cancer (TTCC) was founded in 2001 by a group of medical oncologists and is still running in 2017. Despite its ambitious objectives, the structure was very limited and its development depended entirely on the work of the Board of Directors. Nowadays, with the rapid specialization of clinical trials, its structure became insufficient to become globally competitive and capture first level clinical trials. In addition, we had to adapt to its members needs as well as quality training for all its associates.
GEORCC was founded in parallel in 2007. It was formed exclusively by radiotherapeutics’ oncologists with the same objectives and concentrating in the same type of patients as the TTCC. Its structure was even more limited, and its activity was based mainly on teaching.
Therefore, if in the daily clinical hospital practices the interdisciplinary model of patient care was established, is logical to conclude that both cooperative groups with different specializations but with the same objectives in an specific type of patient should work as a one. For a few years, the TTCC and GEORCC have worked closely together, understanding that the best results will be achieved by working together. The first step that took place was a joint course on Head & Neck Tumours. With time, both groups got closer and in February 2017 the first interdisciplinary cooperative group of Head & Neck Tumours was created with the objective of offering the best possible care to patients with this cancer; increase clinical investigation and facilitate the access to therapeutic innovation to patients. In addition, by creating an academic plan common to both specialities we can assure the continuous training of more than 150 associates that are part of this group.
In order to achieve all of these objectives, the group has recruited a Manager, Carmen Montalban who will start the professionalization of the work currently carried. Furthermore, 3 working groups have been created to overcome current challenges: A Clinical trials group to develop academic studies in our pathology; a group of Teaching that will establish the biennial training plan and a group in charge of Associates Services that will not only concentrate in our associates but will also get closer to our patients.