By Federico Cappuzzo, MD
Posted: February 12, 2020
Lung cancer treatment is becoming extremely complex. It requires specific competencies to identify the correct diagnosis, tumor biology, staging, and best therapeutic strategy. Our institution first illustrated this concept 20 years ago when it established its first multidisciplinary team, which at the time only included a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, and thoracic surgeon. During the subsequent years, the increased complexity of lung cancer management has led to active participation of other specialists including pathologists, radiologists, pneumologists, biostatisticians, and molecular biologists.
Since 2018, a single multidisciplinary team composed of at least eight different specialists meet regularly (every Wednesday), to discuss all cases of thoracic malignancies diagnosed in Romagna, a region with an overall population of 1,100,000 people. In Romagna, five different hospitals (Ravenna, Lugo, Faenza, Rimini, and Cattolica) formally represent a single institution called AUSL Romagna, which in turn collaborates with an institution dedicated to cancer research (Istituto Scientifico Romagnolo per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori [IRST]). IRST has the facilities to allow accurate tumor biology assessment of all patients with thoracic malignancies.
In our multidisciplinary meeting, we focus particular attention on research that aims to offer the most innovative therapy to our patients. Clinical and biologic data are systematically and accurately collected for correlative studies. More than 50 clinical trials are currently ongoing, in all disease stages and in all drug development phases (from phase I to phase IV), with two innovative phase I units (one in Ravenna and one at IRST). Irrespective of inclusion in a clinical trial, our organization allows all patients evaluated to receive appropriate and tailored treatment near home. ✦
About the Author: Dr. Cappuzzo is director of the Oncology and Hematology Department at AUSL Romagna-Ravenna, Italy.