Regional investments have led to improved services… For Cancer Patients

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thinkingTHUNDER BAY – Regional investments have led to improved services and increased survival rates and wait times for colorectal cancer patients in the Northwest. However, the Regional Cancer Care Program is still below provincial Cancer Care Ontario targets for colorectal cancer, signaling that more needs to be done.

In the Northwest, survival for colorectal cancer has increased from 51.9% from 1993-97 to 62.6% from 2003-2007, but is still below the Ontario average of 64.3%. Our screening rates for colorectal cancer in the northwest are among the lowest in the province at 26% participation in FOBT kits (Fecal Occult Blood Test kits to screen for blood in the stool).

A notable improvement was measured in colorectal cancer wait times for colonoscopy within 8 weeks of a positive FOBT screening kit have improved dramatically from 33.9% in 2009, to 50% in 2010. Yet that number is still below the Provincial 70% target.

“Today we celebrate the very significant gains we have made in terms of colorectal cancer, and in other areas of our cancer program. We are planning to make more investments in the early detection of colorectal cancer and in other strategic areas of our program in 2011. This approach will help us improve much more, perhaps even get closer to the provincial target by 2012,” says Michael Power, Regional Vice President of Cancer Care Ontario, VP Cancer and Diagnostic Services at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. “Identifying areas where we need to improve is very helpful and it allows us to strategically allocate our resources and ensure we are investing in the programs that people in our region need most,” says Power.

Today Regional Cancer Care Northwest highlighted the performance of its regional cancer services based on the Cancer Quality Council of Ontario’s CSQI (Cancer System Quality Index). CSQI is the most comprehensive report of its kind in the world in terms of its jurisdictional comparisons and international benchmarks. This year’s CSQI report found that the increase in the colorectal cancer survival rate is due to improvements in screening and advancements in treatment across the province.

“If you live in Ontario and get cancer, you have one of the best chances of survival anywhere in the world,” said Dr. Robert Bell, Chair of the Cancer Quality Council of Ontario and President and CEO, University Health Network. “Ontario has very good performance in survival and mortality compared with other local and international jurisdictions.

Cancer Care Ontario also identified the need for a fuller integration of cancer services to address challenges related to patent hand-offs across provider and specialist groups, coordination between the cancer system and primary care, and coordination within the cancer system itself.

Regional Cancer Care Northwest (RCC NW) is outperforming the provincial average according to the following CSQI indicators:

The Evidence:

· A leader in patient experience, RCC NW is continually working to improve how patients experience their care. RCC NW has improved each year since 2008, and remains a top performer in the province.

NW: 58.9% Ontario average: 53.3%

· A leader in Synoptic Pathology Reporting, RCC NW was the first in Canada to fully implement an innovative synoptic reporting initiative allowing pathologists and oncologists to work with standardized electronic reports when diagnosing cancer.

NW: 96% Ontario average: 94.3%

· A leader in wait times, RCC has some of the lowest wait times for Radiation Treatment, Systemic Treatment (Chemotherapy) and Cancer Surgery, in the province:

Wait times for Cancer Surgery NW: 84.6% Ontario Average: 74.9%

Wait times for Radiation Therapy NW: 91.3 % Ontario Average: 79.9%

Wait times for Chemotherapy NW: 75.2% Ontario Average: 55.9%

“Once again, we are ranked among the very best in the province for our high performance in treatment wait times,” says Power. “Reducing wait times for cancer treatment is crucial for patients and families, it helps people remain positive.”

RCC Northwest works to ensure that all patients receive equitable access to quality cancer care by offering world-class services in cancer prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and supportive/palliative care to the 235,000 residents of Northwestern Ontario. Currently, patients can receive care closer to home in one of 13 affiliated hospital sites across the region.

What is the Cancer System Quality Index (CSQI)?

The Cancer Quality Council of Ontario’s CSQI report measures the performance of Ontario’s cancer care system. This is the 7th CSQI report, intended to drive continuous quality improvement of the system from prevention through to end-of-life care. It is a web-based public reporting tool that serves as a system-wide monitor to track the quality and consistency of services. The Index is a rolling snapshot of activity in about 36 key indicators across 7 core dimensions of quality care (safe, effective, accessible, responsive, efficient, equitable, and integrated).