New guides reshaping lung cancer care

Amanda Lyons

20/11/2018 1:59:07 PM

Two new Cancer Australia guides aim at driving better outcomes for people diagnosed with Australia’s deadliest cancer.

Cancer Australia has released two new guides on the treatment of lung cancer with the determination to improve care at every stage of the disease.
Cancer Australia has released two new guides on the treatment of lung cancer with the determination to improve care at every stage of the disease.

Although lung cancer is only the fifth most diagnosed cancer in Australia, 9198 people are estimated to die of lung cancer in Australia this year. That’s a rate of 25 people a day.
‘It’s the number-one killer in terms of cancer, and the five-year survival rate of people diagnosed with lung cancer is extremely poor compared to other common cancers,’ Associate Professor Joel Rhee, Chair of the RACGP Specific Interests Cancer and Palliative Care network, told newsGP
‘There is evidence lung cancer patients may not be necessarily getting access to early diagnosis and treatment, so there is potential for improvement.’
Cancer Australia is determined to target lung cancer care in an effort to drive improvement in treatment at every stage of the disease.
‘All lung cancer patients, regardless of where they live, should have the benefit of the best care and have the best possible experience,’ Cancer Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Zorbas said.
In moving towards this goal, Cancer Australia today released two lung cancer guides – one for health professionals and one for consumers – that provide advice on the optimal framework for quality lung cancer care.
‘I encourage all those involved in lung cancer care in Australia to implement and use these guides as part of a national coordinated effort to improve lung cancer outcomes,’ Dr Zorbas said.
Delivering best practice lung cancer care for health professionals is structured around the five principles from Cancer Australia’s Lung Cancer Framework: Principles for best practice lung cancer care in Australia, providing evidence-based, practical strategies, tools and resources to help put these principles into practice for all professionals involved in care for patients with lung cancer, including GPs.
‘I think, fundamentally, it’s a really important document and the principles as they are laid out are really useful, particularly for [specialist] cancer services,’ Associate Professor Rhee said.
‘I think it would be good for them to continue referring to this document and continue to think of various ways to put it into practice, to improve the outcomes for patients.’
The five principles are:

  • patient-centred care
  • timely access to evidence-based pathways of care
  • multi-disciplinary care; coordination, communication and continuity of care
  • data-driven improvements in lung cancer care.
Associate Professor Rhee believes GPs will already be familiar with many of these, particularly patient-centred care, and he hopes the new resources will help point the way to a more holistic delivery of cancer care across all healthcare services.
‘In true patient-centred care, as most GPs understand it, services and health professionals are there to help patients and their overall condition and health needs, rather than give care based on specific diseases,’ he said.
‘To deliver patient-centred care, we need to look at the whole person, who is going to need a lot of support with their lung cancer, and that support should not be limited to the immediate complications related to that cancer but should also extend to their other comorbidities.
‘I’d like to see that level of change happening in the way that cancer services are organised.’
Associate Professor Rhee also believes the principles and information contained in the guide could also be helpful when dealing with other types of cancer, and he hopes there will be more to follow.
‘I think it will be good to see this sort of thing happening for other types of cancers as well,’ he said.
‘Lung cancers are important but, obviously, as GPs we deal with patients with all sorts of other conditions. So I think it would be good if this is the first of many things to come from Cancer Australia for different types of cancers.’

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