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New Optimal Care Pathways to ensure consistent care for people living with blood cancer across Australia

Tuesday, August 9 2022

  • Six new Optimal Care Pathways launched by Blood Cancer Taskforce today
  • Trusted guides will set out national standard of high-quality treatment and care
  • Developed by leading clinicians, putting patients at the centre of care decisions

Australia’s Blood Cancer Taskforce has today launched six new Optimal Care Pathways (OCPs) for blood cancer treatment and care, setting the national standard of high-quality cancer care for all Australians impacted by blood cancers (including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma).

OCPs are trusted guides that describe what optimal care for a particular type of cancer should look like, putting patients at the centre of care decisions. They will help health professionals provide nationally consistent, high-quality, evidence-based information and holistic care at each stage of the blood cancer pathway, from diagnosis and treatment through to ongoing and end-of-life care. They are presented in three different versions. The full OCP technical document for health professionals in cancer care outlines the pathways and timelines that define optimal care for someone diagnosed with this particular type of blood cancer; a short quick reference guide; and a guide specifically designed to help patients understand best cancer care,

Blood Cancer Taskforce Co-Chair and Leukaemia Foundation CEO Chris Tanti said the development of OCPs for blood cancers marks a big step towards setting national quality standards for treatment and care for all Australians diagnosed and living with blood cancer.

“Australia has a world class health system. But when it comes to treating people affected by blood cancer, we don’t have Australian-specific standards for diagnosis, treatment and care. Getting the best blood cancer treatment can be challenging, depending on where a person lives,” Mr Tanti said.

“OCPs aim to improve patient outcomes for the 19,000 Australians diagnosed with a blood cancer each year, as well as the more than 135,000 Australians already living with a blood cancer. They promote quality cancer care and are designed so that all people diagnosed with a blood cancer receive the best care, irrespective or where they live or receive treatment”.

Blood Cancer Taskforce Co-Chair and Director, Clinical Haematology at the Peter MacCallum Centre & Royal Melbourne Hospital, Professor John Seymour said ensuring consistent access to best practice treatment and care has the potential to deliver substantial improvements in survival outcomes and quality of life.

“Someone’s postcode should not determine the level of healthcare they receive in Australia. We know that every year we can save at least 1,375 lives by making sure people with blood cancers get the best treatment available. Optimal Care Pathways (OCPs) are the first step to making this happen,” Professor Seymour said.

Developed by Australia’s leading blood cancer treatment and care experts, the six blood cancer OCPs are:

  • Multiple myeloma (MM) – led by Prof Hang Quach
  • Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) – led by Prof Tim Hughes
  • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) – led by Prof John Seymour
  • Low Grade Lymphomas – led by Prof Judith Trotman and Dr Nicole Wong Doo
  • Paediatric and Adolescent and Young Adult Acute Leukaemias – led by Dr Caroline Bateman
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) – led by A/Prof Anoop Enjeti

These new OCPs add to the work previously done by the Cancer Council which had developed OCPs for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) and Hodgkin and Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma.

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

The six new OCPs have been developed by Australia’s leading blood cancer specialists together with patient representatives and approved and endorsed by the Federal, State and Territory health departments. The development has been jointly led by the Australasian Leukaemia & Lymphoma Group (ALLG) and the Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand (HSANZ) with support from the Leukaemia Foundation.

Associate Professor Peter Mollee, Chair of the ALLG Scientific Advisory Committee commended the collaborative work of expert healthcare professionals to develop each OCP to a high standard.

“The ALLG is proud to have contributed to the development and is committed to see the professional haematology community uptake to and utilisation of these new OCP’s in regular practice. Each OCP provides a significant level of confidence to the clinician and the patient about optimal care,” Associate Professor Mollee said.

This partnership is being continued to prepare an additional 5 Optimal Care Pathways.

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

Access the National Strategic Action Plan for Blood Cancer report here:

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Available for interview:

  • Chris Tanti, Blood Cancer Taskforce Co-Chair and CEO, Leukaemia Foundation
  • Associate Professor Peter Mollee, Scientific Advisory Chair, Australasian Leukaemia and Lymphoma Group (ALLG)