Optimal Care Pathways for Cancer

What are the Optimal Care Pathways (OCPs)?

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.

Detailed clinical pathways, as well as quick reference guides for GPs and patient guides, have been developed for 15 tumour types:

Source: Cancer Council Australia: http://www.cancerpathways.org.au/

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.

Optimal Cancer Care Pathway Map:
















Source: A Framework for Optimal Cancer Care Pathways in Practice, supporting continuous improvement in cancer care – National Cancer Expert Reference Group

OCP Resources:

What does this mean for Gippsland?

The adoption of OCPs is being supported in all Australian states and territories.  Gippsland PHN is working in collaboration with the five other Victorian Primary Health Networks, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the 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.

The first two priority areas identified by DHHS for the PHNs to focus on were colorectal (bowel) and lung cancer.  In 2017, Gippsland PHN worked with Gippsland Regional Integrated Cancer Care Services (GRICS) to enable these OCPs to be embedded into standard practice across all services to improve the patient cancer care experience.

In 2018, the priority areas identified are prostate cancer and oesophagogastric cancer. This year, GPHN will be undertaking work to support the critical role of GPs in the adoption of the prostate cancer and oesophagogastric cancer OCPs including: 

  • Building general practitioner awareness, knowledge and use of cancer OCPs
  • Improving collaboration between GPs, cancer specialists and health professionals working in the acute sector
  • Driving better practice cancer care through the adoption of the OCPs
  • Identifying areas for service improvement.

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: 

Detailed clinical pathway:  http://www.cancervic.org.au/downloads/health-professionals/optimal-care-pathways/Optimal_care_pathway_for_men_with_prostate_cancer.pdf

Quick reference guide for GPs:  http://www.cancervic.org.au/downloads/health-professionals/optimal-care-pathways/Prostate_cancer_-_quick_reference_guide.pdf

Patient ‘what to expect’ guide:  http://www.cancerpathways.org.au/downloads/What-to-Expect-Prostate-Cancer-12-16.pdf

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:

Detailed clinical pathway:  https://www.cancervic.org.au/downloads/health-professionals/optimal-care-pathways/Optimal_care_pathway_for_people_with_oesophagogastric_cancer.pdf

Quick reference guide for GPs:  https://www.cancervic.org.au/downloads/health-professionals/optimal-care-pathways/Oesophagogastric_cancer_-_quick_reference_guide.pdf

Patient ‘what to expect’ guide:  http://www.cancerpathways.org.au/downloads/What-to-Expect-Oesophagogastric-Cancer-12-16.pdf\

OCP HealthPathways:

HealthPathways Gippsland is a free online portal, designed to be used by general practice at the point of care. HealthPathways 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.  HealthPathways 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.

Last year, pathways for lung and colorectal (bowel) cancer were developed and currently we are working on pathways for prostate and oesophagogastric cancer.  In addition to the clinical pathways, localised referral pages are also developed.  These pathways will assist in improving patient outcomes and address system level challenges when providing care to cancer patients in the Gippsland region.

How do I access HealthPathways?

To access the HealthPathways Gippsland, click on the link: HealthPathways Gippsland and log on using your Username and Password.  Click on the ‘Request Access’ button if you are not already registered.