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Spigelman A.D.,University of New South Wales | Pascoe S.W.,University of New South Wales | Harris M.F.,University of New South Wales | Beilby J.J.,University of Adelaide | And 4 more authors.
Australian Health Review | Year: 2013

Purpose. To explore the referral pathways of patients with newly diagnosed colorectal cancer to surgeons. Method. Australian surgeons from three states completed a questionnaire and their records were audited. Results. Thirty-three surgeons provided data on 530 patients seen in the preceding 12 months. The median time between colonoscopy and first surgical consult was 10 days, with 19% of patients waiting more than 28 days. After adjustment for clustering, no surgeon factors were associated with the number of days between colonoscopy and surgery. A report back to the general practitioner (GP) was found in 78% of patients' records. This feedback varied between surgeons but none of the specific surgeon characteristics examined could explain this. Conclusion. Surgeons usually communicated with GP regardless of whether they were the referral source. However, communication with GP varied considerably among surgeons, with no evidence of a report to the GP in one-fifth of cases. What is known about the topic? Referral from general practice is the main pathway to specialist services in Australia. There has been little research describing factors that affect referral patterns, particularly following diagnosis of cancer to investigation for surgery. What does this paper add? A significant minority of GP were not informed of the referral for colonoscopy and did not receive a copy of the report. No surgeon factors were associated with the number of days between colonoscopy and surgery. What are the implications for practitioners? Although the referral pathway for colorectal cancer often begins in general practice, GP are not always fully informed of the pathways used and other important treatment decisions. Improved use of audit, dissemination of results and improved information exchange generally may all make a significant impact. © 2013 AHHA.


Goldsbury D.,Cancer Research Division | Harris M.,University of New South Wales | Pascoe S.,University of New South Wales | Barton M.,Collaboration for Cancer Outcomes Research and Evaluation | And 6 more authors.
BMJ Open | Year: 2013

Objectives: To describe general practitioner (GP) involvement in the treatment referral pathway for colorectal cancer (CRC) patients. Design: A retrospective cohort analysis of linked data. Setting: A population-based sample of CRC patients diagnosed from August 2004 to December 2007 in New South Wales, Australia, using the 45 and Up Study, cancer registry diagnosis records, inpatient hospital records and Medicare claims records. Participants: 407 CRC patients who had a colonoscopy followed by surgery. Primary outcome measures: Patterns of GP consultations between colonoscopy and surgery (ie, between diagnosis and treatment). We investigated whether consulting a GP presurgery was associated with time to surgery, postsurgical GP consultations or rectal cancer cases having surgery in a centre with radiotherapy facilities. Results: Of the 407 patients, 43% (n=175) had at least one GP consultation between colonoscopy and surgery. The median time from colonoscopy to surgery was 27 days for those with an intervening GP consultation and 15 days for those without the consultation. 55% (n=223) had a GP consultation up to 30 days postsurgery; it was more common in cases of patients who consulted a GP presurgery than for those who did not (65% and 47%, respectively, adjusted OR 2.71, 95% CI 1.50 to 4.89, p=0.001). Of the 142 rectal cancer cases, 23% (n=33) had their surgery in a centre with radiotherapy facilities, with no difference between those who did and did not consult a GP presurgery (21% and 25% respectively, adjusted OR 0.84, 95% CI 0.27 to 2.63, p=0.76). Conclusions: Consulting a GP between colonoscopy and surgery was associated with a longer interval between diagnosis and treatment, and with further GP consultations postsurgery, but for rectal cancer cases it was not associated with treatment in a centre with radiotherapy facilities. GPs might require a more defined and systematic approach to CRC management.


Goldsbury D.,Cancer Epidemiology Research Unit | Harris M.F.,University of New South Wales | Pascoe S.,University of New South Wales | Olver I.,Cancer Council Australia | And 3 more authors.
BMJ Open | Year: 2012

Objectives: To investigate key patient clinical and demographic characteristics associated with time between colonoscopy and surgery, and choice of treatment centre for colorectal cancer (CRC) patients. This will add to the little published research examining the pathway following CRC diagnosis and prior to surgery. Design: Retrospective cohort analysis of linked data. Setting: A population-based sample of people diagnosed August 2004 to December 2007 in New South Wales, Australia. Participants: 569 CRC patients, of whom 407 (72%, 95% CI 68% to 75%) had colonoscopy followed by surgery. Primary outcome measures: Time between colonoscopy and surgery, and whether the surgery took place in a specialist cancer centre. Results: Among the 407 eligible patients analysed, the median time from colonoscopy to surgery was 19 days (IQR 12-29 days). After adjusting for key demographic and clinical characteristics such as age and disease stage, the time was longer for rectal cancer patients and those reporting fair/poor health, although differences in medians were <5 days. 24% (95% CI 20% to 28%) had surgery in a specialist cancer centre, which was more common among people resident in metropolitan areas (37% vs 14% for others, adjusted p=0.001) and those without private health insurance (30% vs 21% for others, adjusted p=0.03). Conclusions: There do not appear to be systemic issues affecting time from colonoscopy to surgery related to patients' socio-demographic characteristics. However, patients with private insurance and those living in rural areas may be less likely to receive optimal specialist treatment. A more systematic approach might be needed to ensure cancer patients are treated in specialist cancer centres, particularly patients requiring more specialised treatment.


Jacob S.A.,Ingham Institute of Applied Medical Research | Jacob S.A.,Collaboration for Cancer Outcomes Research and Evaluation | Jacob S.A.,University of New South Wales | Ng W.L.,Ingham Institute of Applied Medical Research | And 5 more authors.
Clinical Oncology | Year: 2015

There is wide variation in the proportion of newly diagnosed cancer patients who receive chemotherapy, indicating the need for a benchmark rate of chemotherapy utilisation. This study describes an evidence-based model that estimates the proportion of new cancer patients in whom chemotherapy is indicated at least once (defined as the optimal chemotherapy utilisation rate). The optimal chemotherapy utilisation rate can act as a benchmark for measuring and improving the quality of care. Models of optimal chemotherapy utilisation were constructed for each cancer site based on indications for chemotherapy identified from evidence-based treatment guidelines. Data on the proportion of patient- and tumour-related attributes for which chemotherapy was indicated were obtained, using population-based data where possible. Treatment indications and epidemiological data were merged to calculate the optimal chemotherapy utilisation rate. Monte Carlo simulations and sensitivity analyses were used to assess the effect of controversial chemotherapy indications and variations in epidemiological data on our model. Chemotherapy is indicated at least once in 49.1% (95% confidence interval 48.8-49.6%) of all new cancer patients in Australia. The optimal chemotherapy utilisation rates for individual tumour sites ranged from a low of 13% in thyroid cancers to a high of 94% in myeloma. The optimal chemotherapy utilisation rate can serve as a benchmark for planning chemotherapy services on a population basis. The model can be used to evaluate service delivery by comparing the benchmark rate with patterns of care data. The overall estimate for other countries can be obtained by substituting the relevant distribution of cancer types. It can also be used to predict future chemotherapy workload and can be easily modified to take into account future changes in cancer incidence, presentation stage or chemotherapy indications. © 2014 The Royal College of Radiologists.


Ng W.,Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research | Ng W.,Collaboration for Cancer Outcomes Research and Evaluation | Ng W.,University of New South Wales | Jacob S.,Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research | And 11 more authors.
Gastroenterology Research and Practice | Year: 2015

Aims. The proportion of patients with upper gastrointestinal cancers that received chemotherapy varies widely in Australia and internationally, indicating a need for a benchmark rate of chemotherapy utilisation. We developed evidence-based models for upper gastrointestinal cancers to estimate the optimal chemotherapy utilisation rates that can serve as useful benchmarks for measuring and improving the quality of care. Materials and Methods. Optimal chemotherapy utilisation models for cancers of the oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, and primary liver were constructed using indications for chemotherapy identified from evidence-based guidelines. Results. Based on the best available evidence, the optimal proportion of upper gastrointestinal cancers that should receive chemotherapy at least once during the course of the patients' illness was estimated to be 79% for oesophageal cancer, 83% for gastric cancer, 35% for pancreatic cancer, 80% for gallbladder cancer, and 27% for primary liver cancer. Conclusions. The reported chemotherapy utilisation rates for upper gastrointestinal cancers (with the exception of primary liver cancer) appear to be substantially lower than the estimated optimal rates suggesting that chemotherapy may be underutilised. Further studies to elucidate the reasons for the potential underutilisation of chemotherapy in upper gastrointestinal tumours are required to bridge the gap between the ideal and actual practice identified. © 2015 Weng Ng et al.


Barton M.B.,Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research | Barton M.B.,Collaboration for Cancer Outcomes Research and Evaluation | Barton M.B.,University of Sydney | Jacob S.,Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research | And 16 more authors.
Radiotherapy and Oncology | Year: 2014

Background and Purpose: In 2003 we estimated that 52.3% of new cases of cancer in Australia had an indication for external beam radiotherapy at least once at some time during the course of their illness. This update reviews the contemporary evidence to define the optimal proportion of new cancers that would benefit from radiotherapy as part of their treatment and estimates the changes to the optimal radiotherapy utilisation rate from 2003 to 2012. Materials and Methods: National and international guidelines were reviewed for external beam radiotherapy indications in the management of cancers. Epidemiological data on the proportion of new cases of cancer with each indication for radiotherapy were identified. Indications and epidemiological data were merged to develop an optimal radiotherapy utilisation tree. Univariate and Monte Carlo simulations were used in sensitivity analysis. Results: The overall optimal radiotherapy utilisation rate (external beam radiotherapy) for all registered cancers in Australia changed from 52.3% in 2003 to 48.3% in 2012. Overall 8.9% of all cancer patients in Australia have at least one indication for concurrent chemo-radiotherapy during the course of their illness. Conclusions: The reduction in the radiotherapy utilisation rate was due to changes in epidemiological data, changes to radiotherapy indications and refinements of the model structure. © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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