Department of Health

Key messages

  • Optimal care pathways (OCPs) have been developed in collaboration with a wide range of clinicians, consumers and carers.
  • On the journey of care the patients is the constant, and the health system is responsible for delivering an appropriate and coordinated care experience.
  • Routine linked data may help to measure the impact of care consistent with the OCPs on service system performance and health outcomes.

All people diagnosed with cancer should receive the best care. The optimal care pathways promote quality cancer care, and define the principles of cancer care and the critical steps in a cancer patient’s journey - from prevention and early detection through to end-of-life-care. Optimal care pathways (OCPs) map the care journey for more than 25 tumour types. The OCPs are based on current best practice, and include references to clinical guidelines, standards and research. The first 15 OCPs are now in their second edition.

Victoria has led this program of work as part of the National Cancer Work Plan (2012) for improving cancer care. The plan was developed by the former National Cancer Expert Reference Group (NCERG).

The OCPs are nationally endorsed documents for use in all Australian jurisdictions and can be found online at Cancer Council VictoriaExternal Link .

They area also accessible via the Progressive Web Application (PWA) which provides streamlined navigation and rapid access to information about the Optimal Care Pathways.

The Optimal Care Pathways Progressive Web Application is available at Optimal Care PathwaysExternal Link .

The Application provides:

  • Favourite, search, filter and glossary functionality
  • Responsive PWA design to work across multiple devices

Future updates will include:

  • Multiple languages
  • Additional OCPs
  • Expanded suite of new media content (podcasts, video)

Victorian Cancer Quality Index 2008 – 2015

The Victorian Cancer Quality Index 2008 - 2015External Link provides statewide information on the utilisation, timeliness and outcome of surgery, radiation therapy and intravenous systemic therapy for Victorians with breast, colorectal, gynaecological, hepatobiliary, lung, upper gastrointestinal and urological cancers. The Index allows monitoring of the quality and safety of cancer treatment in Victoria over time, and in comparison to Queensland. In 2022-2023 work was commenced to provide a second report.

Implementing optimal care pathways

Since 2017, the department has worked with the sector to implement the OCPs and they are a foundation to the Victorian Cancer Plan. The Victorian Tumour Summits programExternal Link engages with clinicians to identify unwarranted variations in tumour clinical practice and cancer outcomes.

Monitoring optimal care pathways

Care provided as described in an OCP should reduce unwarranted variation in cancer treatment as well as improve efficiency, equity and patients' experience of care. Linked routine data sets inform this work. Some of these analyses are led by groups of clinicians as part of the Tumour summit program, aimed at identifying important variations in care and improvement opportunities.

See the Optimal care pathway data summary page for a series of data reports to help understand care delivery for selected cancers.

Cancer Services Performance Indicators

The Victorian Cancer Service Performance Indicator program was established to measure progress with the implementation of Victorian Government cancer reform policy. Four key priorities for reform have been identified as the focus for service improvement at the Integrated Cancer Service (ICS) and statewide:

  • multidisciplinary care
  • care coordination across the cancer care pathway
  • supportive care
  • reducing unwanted variation in practice.

A selection of Cancer Services Performance Indicators reports are available:

Optimal Cancer Pathways Data Project

The department is also working with the Commonwealth Department of Health to share, link and jointly analyse routinely collected Commonwealth and state datasets. The broad aim is to better understand the relevance of the OCPs as a tool for understanding variations in cancer care pathways, services, costs and health outcomes. This Optimal Cancer Pathways Data Project will help inform future policy development.

The final published report is available Alignment with Indices of A Care Pathway Is Associated with Improved Survival: An Observed Population-based Study in Colon Cancer PatientsExternal Link

Reviewed 09 January 2024


Contact details

Cancer Support, Treatment and Research Department of Health

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