New framework to drive better lung-cancer care

In an Australian first, Cancer Australia this week launched a framework to improve the outcomes and experiences of people affected by lung cancer – the leading cause of cancer death in Australia.

The ‘Lung Cancer Framework: Principles for Best Practice Lung Cancer Care in Australia’ was unveiled at a summit in Sydney that brought together delegates from across the breadth of cancer control with consumers, to drive improvements in lung-cancer treatment and care.

Lung-cancer survival rates are poor, with only 16 out of 100 people surviving five years after diagnosis. The disease is expected to claim more than 9,000 lives in Australia in 2018.

Cancer Australia CEO Dr Helen Zorbas says the framework is the result of a four year collaborative process involving cancer specialists and other health professionals, health service providers and consumers across Australia.

“The five key principles for improving lung-cancer outcomes are well established: patient centred care; timely access to evidence-based pathways of care; multidisciplinary care; coordination, communication and continuity of care; and data driven improvements,” she said.

“The challenge has been to develop ways of applying these principles in the clinical setting, whether in hospitals or GP practices in major cities, regional centres or smaller towns, to improve outcomes for people with lung cancer.

“Cancer Australia road-tested the principles as part of a demonstration project in a range of clinical environments across four health-service collaborations in NSW, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia. The project, established at 11 sites, involved health professionals, service providers and consumers.

“The participating health-service collaborations supported the uptake and use of the lung-cancer care principles and strategies as models for use in the clinical environment.

“The framework shows how the principles work to make a difference at a consumer, service and system level to improve outcomes such as patient wellbeing and survival.”

Dr Zorbas says the utility of the framework as a national resource is the inclusion of strategies, tools and resources to support health professionals, service providers and policy-makers.

“The framework reminds us that it’s the people being diagnosed with lung cancer, and being treated and supported, who are the focus of care,” she said. “It emphasises the importance of effective communication through every aspect of their experience.”