Understanding a Tumor Board

Cancer Center experts meet to discuss patient cases and come up with innovative treatment options that could save lives

The U-M experts who are in attendance depend on each patient's health situation.

Most Tumor Boards:

Aron Bowser
Aron Bowser, who received a double lung transplant in December 2013, had a unique set of circumstances that were discussed in his tumor board meeting.

Learn more about him in the article Meeting of the Minds
Medical oncologist a doctor who treats cancer and manages the patient’s course of treatment including general care and, if used, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and immunotherapy.

Surgical oncologist a doctor with special training in treating cancer who may perform biopsies to diagnose cancer, or treat a cancer by removing tumors or other cancerous tissue.

Radiation oncologist a doctor who specializes in the use of radiation to treat cancer.

Pathologist a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and classifying diseases by lab tests, such as looking at tissue and cells under a microscope. The pathologist determines whether a mass or blood sample contains cancer and, if it is cancer, the exact cell type (where it started) and grade (how fast it likely will grow).

Some Tumor Boards

Geneticist a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating genetic disorders or conditions. Medical geneticists also counsel individuals and families at risk for certain genetic disorders or cancers.

Hepatologist a specialist in diagnosing and treating liver disease. Other types of cancer would have specialists such as gastroenterologists or dermatologists.

Transplant surgeon a doctor who performs organ transplants, moving an organ from one body to another to replace a damaged or absent organ.

Radiologist a doctor who uses imaging techniques (e.g., X-rays, CT scans) to both diagnose and treat disease. In cancer care, this specialist might also perform needle biopsies using the CT or ultrasound technique to locate a tumor and obtain a tissue sample for a diagnosis.

Multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Conference

Thoracic surgeon a doctor who operates on organs in the chest, including the lungs, ribs, sternum (breast bone), diaphragm (the muscle that helps breathing), and other associated muscles.

Pulmonary specialist a doctor who specializes in treating diseases of the lungs, including lung cancer.

Nuclear medicine a doctor who applies radioactive substances in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.


Tumor Board
See a full listing of the Cancer Center's Tumor Boards.

Learn how the National Cancer Institute defines a tumor board, as well as other cancer terms.

Read the related article Meeting of the Minds.

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Thrive Issue: 
Spring, 2014