Overview of Pan-Canadian standards for cancer surgery

Review these cancer surgical standards for high risk, gynecologic, thoracic, breast and rectal to support the delivery of high-quality care

The Partnership has funded this family of documents about surgical standards for the most common as well as high-risk cancers, beginning with the first report from November 2015: Approaches to high-risk, resource-intensive cancer surgical care in Canada.

Most important, the first report demonstrates how each province has tremendous variability in how it delivers cancer-care services. In response, four disease-site specific, pan-Canadian surgical standards have been created. At the beginning of 2019, surgical standards that apply to breast and rectal cancer were released. More site-specific surgical standards will follow.

The gynecologic, thoracic, breast and rectal surgical standards give high-level guidance and discuss the foundational resources and requirements needed to improve surgical cancer care and its outcomes for patients. The distribution of and approaches to complex surgeries are also covered.

These five reports emphasize key areas, like human-resource requirements to make sure patients have timely access to care. Other areas include availability of required equipment and services, quality-assurance processes and measurement capabilities. Each document was informed by environmental scans, a literature review and expert consensus.

A team sport

The standards recognize surgery as a ‘team sport’ and emphasize the need for the entire health care team to be well-trained and adequately resourced to provide the best possible care to Canadians.

Together, these reports highlight the need for quality processes, such as collecting routine data and developing a national database. Those processes must be thoughtfully embedded into existing ones to help improve quality on a constant basis. In addition, careful consideration should be given to regionalizing specialized services, and accounting for patient choice and travel time.

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