What are they?Optimal Cancer Care Pathways are national guides to the best cancer care for specific tumour types.
The pathways describe the key stages in a patient’s cancer journey, from diagnosis to survivorship or end-of-life care, and expected optimal care at each stage to ensure all people diagnosed with cancer get the best care, regardless of where they live or have cancer treatment.
Stage of the PathwayStage 1: Prevention and early detection
Stage 2: Presentation, initial investigations and referral
Stage 3: Diagnosis, staging and treatment planning
Stage 4: Treatment
Stage 5: Care after initial treatment and recovery
Stage 6: Managing recurrent, residual and metastatic disease
Stage 7: End-of-life care
Support: Access to supportive care needs, including survivorship, at every step of the pathway with referrals to appropriate health professionals or organisations
- Patient-centred care
- Safe and quality care
- Multidisciplinary care
- Supportive care
- Care coordination
- Research and clinical trials
Reader notesPatient-centred care: is healthcare that is respectful of, and responsive to, the preferences, needs and values of patients and carers.
Safe and quality care: is provided by appropriately trained and credentialled clinicians, hospitals and clinics that have the equipment and staffing capacity to support safe and high-quality care
Multidisciplinary care: is an integrated team approach to healthcare in which medical and allied health professionals consider all relevant treatment options and collaboratively develop an individual treatment and care plan for each patient.
Supportive care: is an umbrella term used to refer to services, both generalist and specialist, that may be required by those affected by cancer.
Care coordination: is a comprehensive approach to achieving continuity of care for patients.
Communication: is the responsibility of the healthcare system and all people within its employ, in order to ensure the communication needs of patients, their families and carers are met.
Research and clinical trials: participation opportunities should be offered to patients where practical, at any stage of the care pathway.
Three versionsFor each cancer pathway there are three versions:
A detailed clinical pathway for cancer specialists, health professionals and health service administrators
Quick reference guide for GPs to familiarise GPs and primary care providers with the care pathway
Patient ‘what to expect’ guides to assist patients and their carers to understand the care pathway and what to expect at each stage.
Developed for 15 Cancer TypesDetailed pathways, as well as quick reference guides and patient guides, have been developed for 15 tumour types:
- acute myeloid leukaemia
- breast cancer
- colorectal cancer
- endometrial cancer
- head and neck cancers
- hepatocellular carcinoma
- high-grade glioma cancer
- hodgkins lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma
- lung cancer
- non-melanoma skin cancers
- oesophagogastric cancer
- ovarian cancer
- pancreatic cancer
- prostate cancer.
Development processThe Optimal Cancer Care Pathways were developed as part of a national work plan to improve cancer care across Australia led by the National Cancer Expert Reference Group (NCERG).
Each pathway was developed by an expert group including clinicians specialising in treatment of the particular tumour, GPs and consumers, and in consultation with medical colleges and peak health organisations.
Nationally EndorsedThe Optimal Cancer Care Pathways have been endorsed by the National Cancer Expert Reference Group, Cancer Australia and Cancer Council Australia.
National AdoptionAdoption of Optimal Cancer Care Pathways is being supported in all states and territories to ensure consistent, optimal cancer care across Australia.
The aim is to improve patient outcomes by facilitating consistent care across Australia using evidence-based, best practice pathways of care.
Patient treatment regimens will vary, but the principles and expectations of optimal cancer care are constant.
How can Optimal Cancer Care Pathways improve cancer care?
- Service improvement
- Best practice
- Communication and coordination of care
- Improve patient understanding
Reader notesService improvement: Optimal Cancer Care Pathways can be used by health services and professionals as a tool to identify gaps in current cancer services and inform quality improvement initiatives across all aspects of the care pathway.
Best practice: The detailed clinical pathways are intended for cancer specialists, health professionals and health service administrators. They describe the key principles and best practice at critical points in the continuum of care to ensure optimal patient management.
Communication and coordination of care: Pathways can be used by clinicians and health professionals as an information resource and tool to promote discussion and collaboration with people affected by cancer, and assist in the navigation of the care pathways.
Increase patient understanding: The ‘What to expect’ guides and cancer pathways website are designed to help patients and their carers and family to understand their pathway through the often complex health system. They map the pathways for 15 cancer types in an easily understandable format and describe what to expect at each stage to help patients make informed decisions and ask questions of their health professionals to ensure they receive the best care and support they need.