New group aims to optimise breast cancer treatment
BCAC committee members Rowena Mortimer and Libby Burgess are involved in the Northern Cancer Network's newly formed Breast Cancer Steering Group. The group includes a wide range of cancer doctors, breast care nurses, consumers and Māori representatives. It aims to improve outcomes for breast cancer patients using an evidence-based model. Mr Garth Poole, breast and general surgeon at Counties Manukau DHB, will chair the group.
Current levels of service being provided in the four northern DHBs will be evaluated to ensure there is equity of access to best practice care for all patients.
BCAC Secretary, Rowena Mortimer, comments that it is very encouraging to see this group established.
“We need to improve outcomes for all New Zealanders with breast cancer. It’s wonderful to see the level of passion and commitment within this diverse group to optimising breast cancer treatment and care. The initial priorities are to develop a Multi-Disciplinary Meeting (MDM) form and to review follow-up care. The work done here will provide a model for the other cancer treatment centres around New Zealand.”
MDMs aim to ensure all those involved with a patient’s care will meet to discuss the best approach for each individual patient. Each MDM would likely include a surgeon, pathologist, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, breast care nurse and if necessary a geneticist. Developing the MDM form involves considering all the processes for each aspect of care, as well as the referrals that arise and the information that can be collected from these meetings.
Details will be recorded electronically and distributed to all parts of the system with appropriate priority so appointments can be booked. The intention is for all elements of the system to work together seamlessly to increase efficiency, reduce waiting times and make better use of resources available.
The review of follow up care involves looking at the medical surveillance, support and quality of information provided to women and men on the recovery journey after treatment for breast cancer. The aim is to empower patients with knowledge and to provide effective follow up, ensuring the early detection and treatment of any recurrences.
The Northern Cancer Network aims to improve cancer outcomes in all types of cancer. Work has been ongoing for some time in the lung and colon cancer streams across the country and initiatives to optimize care in other cancers are now beginning. The Northern Network will link closely with similar specialist groups in other cancer networks to maximise opportunities for information sharing and learning. This will also enhance the development of consistent approaches to systems issues.