Neuro-oncology tumor boards (NTBs) hold an established function in cancer care as multidisciplinary tumor boards. However, NTBs predominantly exist at academic and/or specialized centers. In addition to increasing centralization throughout the healthcare system, changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic have arguably resulted in advantages by conducting clinical meetings virtually. We therefore asked about the experience and acceptance of (virtualized) NTBs and their potential benefits.
A survey questionnaire was developed and distributed via a web-based platform. Specialized neuro-oncological centers in Germany were identified based on the number of brain tumor cases treated in the respective institution per year. Only one representative per center was invited to participate in the survey. Questions targeted the structure/organization of NTBs as well as changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 65/97 institutions participated in the survey (response rate 67%). In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, regular conventions of NTBs were maintained by the respective centers and multi-specialty participation remained high. NTBs were considered valuable by respondents in achieving the most optimal therapy for the affected patient and in maintaining/encouraging interdisciplinary debate/exchange. The settings of NTBs have been adapted during the pandemic with the increased use of virtual technology. Virtual NTBs were found to be beneficial, yet administrative support is lacking in some places.
Virtual implementation of NTBs was feasible and accepted in the centers surveyed. Therefore, successful implementation offers new avenues and may be pursued for networking between centers, thereby increasing coverage of neuro-oncology care.