Optimal Care Pathways for Cancer

What are the Optimal Care Pathways (OCPs) for Cancer and How Can I Access Them in Relation to Gippsland HealthPathways?

Optimal Care Pathways are national guides that describe the best possible cancer care for patients with specific tumour types.  The OCPs have been developed by clinical experts in collaboration with peak health organisations, consumers and carers. They are endorsed by the National Cancer Expert Reference Group, Cancer Australia and Cancer Council Australia. The primary purpose of the OCPs is to improve patient outcomes by facilitating consistent, safe, high quality and evidence-based care across Australia.

The Optimal Care Pathways for cancer include detailed clinical pathways, Quick Reference Guides for GPs and patient ‘What to Expect Guides’ and have been developed for 16 tumour types.

Each pathway describes the key stages in a patient’s cancer journey, from prevention and identification through to survivorship or end-of-life care and expected optimal care at each stage. The aim is to ensure that all people diagnosed with cancer get the best care, regardless of where they live or receive treatment. They can be accessed through the resource’s listed below or through the cancer streams listed within HealthPathways Gippsland.

optimal care pathway map

HealthPathways Gippsland

HealthPathways Gippsland is a free online portal, designed to be used by general practice at the point of care. HealthPathways Gippsland aims to guide best-practice assessment and management of common medical conditions, including when and where to refer patients. It is also available to medical specialists, nurses, allied health and other health professionals, for use within their scope of practice within the Gippsland region.  Health Pathways have been designed as a tool to assist GPs to connect patients to the right care, at the right place and with the right healthcare provider.  The pathways are written by GP Clinical Editors in collaboration with specialists and other GPs.  The HealthPathways Gippsland portal presents a synopsis of current evidence, clinical guidelines, and uses Optimal Care Pathway guidelines, along with information about local referral options for a range of specific conditions in the one, easy to use place. Health Pathways do not replace clinical decision making, they support it.

These pathways will assist in improving patient outcomes and address system level challenges when providing care to cancer patients in the Gippsland region. HealthPathways Gippsland also contains over 200 individual pathways from common to complex medical conditions.  Additionally, HealthPathways Gippsland provides localised referral pages for Gippsland patients and to date over 200 have been completed.

How do I access HealthPathways Gippsland?

To access the HealthPathways Gippsland visit Health Pathways Gippsland and enter your username and password to log in.  Click on the ‘Request Access’ button if you are not already registered.

The Optimal Care Pathways for Cancer Gippsland Update

Gippsland PHN is currently concentrating efforts on care of Gippsland patients with Melanoma, Head and Neck and Pancreatic Cancers, resources are available for Practices and GP’s to access.

What does this mean for Gippsland?

The adoption of Optimal Care Pathways for Cancer is being supported in all Australian states and territories.  Gippsland PHN is working in collaboration with the five other Victorian Primary Health Networks and the Victorian Tasmanian Primary Health Alliance (VTPHNA), the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Gippsland Regional Integrated Cancer Services network to support the implementation of the OCPs with general practitioners, cancer services, specialists and other health professionals across our region.

Melanoma skin cancer was the 4th most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia in 2014. It is estimated that it will remain the 4th most commonly diagnosed cancer in 2018 (AIHW c, 2018). In 2016, melanoma skin cancer was the 12th leading cause of cancer death in Australia. It is estimated that it will become the 8th most common cause of death from cancer in 2018 (AIHW c, 2018).

In 2018, it is estimated that the risk of an individual dying from melanoma skin cancer by their 85th birthday will be 1 in 118 (1 in 76 males and 1 in 227 females) (AIHW c, 2018).  It is for these reasons that the OCP’s are being developed. Gippsland Primary Health Network will also be partnering with Gippsland Regional Integrated Cancer Services for conducting a small series of General Practitioner Forums across our region.

Head and neck cancers were the 7th most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia in 2014 (AIHW, 2018). There is a significant gender divide in the incidence rate, with almost three times as many men affected than women (AIHW, 2018). Major risk factors for these cancers include tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and HPV infection, which causes more than half of all oropharyngeal cancers (CCV, 2018).

Pancreatic cancer was the 10th most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia in 2014 and in 2016, pancreatic cancer was the 5th leading cause of cancer death in Australia (AIHW b, 2018). The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is 8.7% (AIHW b, 2018).

Pancreatic cancers are rarely seen in general practice with diagnosis usually occurring in the acute sector. Many patients present with non-specific symptoms or are asymptomatic until advanced stages of the disease process. There is an opportunity for GPs to affect patient outcomes through earlier referral, the adoption of the Optimal Care Pathways for Cancer through use of the HealthPathways Gippsland portal will assist with this.

OCP Resources

In addition to their location within HealthPathways Gippsland further OCP resources can be found through the following links:

Previous OCP and HealthPathways Gippsland

These areas have now been completed and resources are available for the following conditions: Prostate cancer and oesophagogastric cancer.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in men in Australia. The five-year survival rate is very high at 94%, however late presentation continues to affect patient outcomes with a significant sub-group of patients reporting high psychological distress, sexual dysfunction and unmet supportive care needs. Greater general practice education and awareness of symptoms, PSA testing, diagnosis, referral pathways and supportive care needs has the potential to significantly improve the experience for patients.

OCP Resources for Men with Prostate Cancer:

Oesophagogastric Cancer

Oesophagogastric cancers have a low incidence and poor prognosis, with five-year survival rates ranging from 20 to 30%. There is an important role for GPs in delivering preventative health messages on smoking cessation and moderation of alcohol intake; awareness of risk factors and symptoms for earlier diagnosis; correct referral to appropriate specialists; and monitoring and supporting patients through treatment, which is usually palliative rather than curative in intent.

OCP Oesophagogastric Cancer Resources:

Optimal Care Pathways for Cancer

Acute myeloid leukaemia

Click on each icon for more information. Each pathway describes the key stages in a patient’s cancer journey, from prevention and identification through to survivorship or end-of-life care, and expected optimal care at each stage. The aim is to ensure that all people diagnosed with cancer get the best care, regardless of where they live or receive treatment. Source: Cancer Council Australia