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Blood Cancer Taskforce unveils new Optimal Care Pathways for blood cancer treatment and care

Wednesday May 22, 2024

Australia’s Blood Cancer Taskforce today released five new Optimal Care Pathways (OCPs), marking a significant advancement for blood cancer treatment and care in Australia.

The OCPs are trusted guides that describe what optimal care for a particular type of cancer should look like, while putting patients at the centre of care decisions. They also help set the national standard of high-quality care, which is critically important for the 140,000 Australians currently living with blood cancer.

The five new OCPs will join the existing eight blood cancer OCPs, including six that were previously developed by the Blood Cancer Taskforce in 2022 – jointly led by the Australasian Leukaemia & Lymphoma Group (ALLG) and the Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand (HSANZ) – and two that were developed by the Cancer Council in 2021.

Chris Tanti, Co-Chair of the Blood Cancer Taskforce and Leukaemia Foundation CEO emphasised the importance of the OCPs and said that they are a vital blueprint for delivering the highest standard of care and treatment at every stage of a patient’s journey.

“The OCPs define the optimal care for someone diagnosed with a specific type of blood cancer and include a full OCP technical document specifically created for healthcare professionals,” said Mr Tanti.

“As well as assisting blood cancer specialists, the OCPs will also prove valuable for treating hospitals and GPs, ensuring they have access to the same information.

“The introduction of these new OCPs aim to reduce the variability in treatment and care across the country for each of these blood cancers, representing a milestone in the battle against blood cancer in Australia.

“We encourage healthcare professionals, along with patients and their loved ones, to access the OCPs to help them build an even better understanding of what the optimal care journey for a patient’s particular type of blood cancer looks like.”

In addition to the technical document for healthcare professionals, the OCPs contain a short reference guide which acts as a companion document to the full optimal care pathway, and a guide specifically designed to help patients understand best cancer care.

They’ve been developed by Australia’s leading blood cancer treatment and care experts including the Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand (HSANZ), together with patient representatives, and approved and endorsed by the Australian and State and Territory Governments. The blood cancers covered in these new OCPs are:

  1. Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) – led by Dr Shaun Fleming and Dr Caroline McNamara
  2. AL-amyloidosis – led by Dr Fiona Kwok and A/Prof Peter Mollee
  3. Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) – led by Dr Dejan Radeski and Dr Carrie van der Weyden
  4. Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) – led by Prof Steven Lane and A/Prof Kate Burbury
  5. Waldenström’s macroglobulinaemia (WM) – led by Prof Judith Trotman and Dr Nicole Wong Doo

The OCPs were led by a steering committee, Chaired by Dr Hui-Peng Lee, Clinical & Laboratory Haematologist and President of HSANZ.

Professor John Seymour AM, Co-Chair of the Blood Cancer Taskforce and Director of Clinical Haematology at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Royal Melbourne Hospital further highlighted how the OCPs support optimal care delivery.

“These OCPs have been developed through a collaborative, evidence-based process to guide healthcare professionals in providing consistent, effective treatment and support to blood cancer patients, regardless of where they live,” said Professor Seymour.

“We know that twenty-nine per cent of blood cancer deaths in this country could be avoided through the consistent delivery of the known national standards of timely and accurate diagnosis, optimal treatment, and care, and that’s significant.

“Australia has a world class health system and these new OCPs, along with the existing eight will ensure we now have Australian-specific standard frameworks for diagnosis, treatment, and care.”

Blood cancer is the second highest cause of cancer related deaths in Australia, with the development and endorsement of the OCPs forming part of an ongoing effort to improve survival rates and quality of life for blood cancer patients.

OCPs are one of the key recommendations in the Blood Cancer Taskforce’s National Strategic Action Plan for Blood Cancer (National Action Plan) which is a blueprint for change in the lives of people living with blood cancer.

Integrating OCPs as routine cancer care is a key action within the Australian Cancer Plan’s strategic objective of achieving world class health systems for optimal care.

All versions of blood cancer specific OCPs are available to download from the Cancer Council website.