Role of the Multidisciplinary Care Team

A multidisciplinary team approach is recommended when treating myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), including healthcare providers, social services, financial counselors, support groups, and patient navigators.1

The multidisciplinary care team should have a thorough understanding of2:

  • The MDS disease state and available treatment options
  • Advantages and disadvantages of available therapies, to assist in patient evaluation and to make informed choices about future treatment options

To effectively manage MDS, healthcare providers should Assess, Educate, Advocate, and Coordinate.1,3


Assess the patient’s physical and mental health to detect deficits that may require intervention.1


Educate patients and families in simple language about the elements of treatment, such as1,2,4:

  • MDS diagnosis
  • Available treatment options
  • Doses and administration of therapy
  • Duration of therapy
  • Potential adverse events (AEs) and setting expectations for treatment-related cytopenias
  • Potential outcomes
  • Coordination of office visits
  • How to assist the patient with tracking their progress
  • Guidelines for signs and symptoms requiring immediate attention
  • Who to contact if immediate attention is required
  • How the multidisciplinary care team can assist with referrals
Advocate and Communicate

Advocate for patients and communicate with the rest of the care team.1,3

Communicating the care plan to patients and caregivers should include discussion of the following1,4,5:

  • Frequency of office visits
  • Setting expectations
  • Laboratory testing
  • Diagnostic procedures (bone marrow biopsy and aspiration)
  • Possible need for transfusions or other supportive care
  • Psychosocial support
  • Treatment decision making

Effectively conveying this information will set expectations for the patient and caregiver, help engage the patient and caregiver in the treatment process, and build a foundation for consistent communication.4

Coordinate Care

Coordinate care based on the individual patient’s needs to provide the best support for patients and caregivers.1

References: 1. Kurtin SE, Paterson P, Wintrich S, et al. Patient and family resources for living with myelodysplastic syndromes. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2012;16(suppl):58-64. 2. Kurtin SE, Demakos EP. An update on the treatment of myelodysplastic syndromes. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2010;14(3):E29-E44. 3. Kurtin SE. Myelodysplastic syndromes: the challenge of developing clinical guidelines and supportive care strategies for a rare disease. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2012;16(suppl):5-7. 4. Kurtin SE, Demakos EP, Hayden J, Boglione C. Treatment of myelodysplastic syndromes: practical tools for effective management. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2012;16(suppl):23-35. 5. Greenberg PL, Attar E, Bennett JM, et al. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: myelodysplastic syndromes. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2011;9(1):30-56.