Liver Tumor Program, Temple University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
A multidisciplinary model is a useful approach in the management of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) to coordinate, individualize, and optimize care. The HCC Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) at Temple University Hospital was established in 2008 and comprises hepatologists, interventional radiologists, transplant surgeons, oncologists, residents, midlevel providers, and support staff. Patients may be enrolled by referral from (1) oncologists at Temple, (2) the hepatitis screening clinic recently established at Temple and staffed by hepatology residents, or (3) community practices. MDT conferences are held weekly, during which cases are discussed (based on medical history, interpretation of images, and laboratory analyses) and treatment plans are formulated. The Temple treatment algorithm follows current standards of care, guided by tumor volume and morphology, but the novel multidisciplinary interaction challenges members to tailor therapy to achieve the best possible outcomes. Patients with a solitary lesion ≤ 2 cm may receive no treatment until eligible for transplantation or locoregional therapy or resection, with imaging every 3 to 6 months to monitor tumor progression. In patients with tumors > 2 cm and ≤ 5 cm, microwave ablation therapy is used if lesions are discrete and accessible. Conventional transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) or drug-eluting bead TACE (DEB-TACE) or yttrium-90 microspheres are utilized in multifocal disease. Patients with lesions > 5 cm are candidates for TACE for downstaging the tumor. Sorafenib is typically reserved for unresectable lesions between 2 cm and 5 cm. Frequently, we administer sorafenib continuously and in combination with DEB-TACE. In our experience, sorafenib does not produce effects on the tumor vasculature or blood flow that would impair the efficacy of DEB-TACE. The literature documents improved outcomes in HCC and other cancers associated with the introduction of multidisciplinary care. The role and organization of the MDT is influenced by team culture, expertise, and process, as well as institutional and larger environmental contexts.