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The diagnosis of cancer is the beginning of a personal journey, and is one of the first steps taken in the cancer care system. Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) is working to help make the process of getting a diagnosis an efficient and streamlined one. Reducing the amount of time from symptom onset to diagnosis can lead not only to the start of earlier treatment, but reduced anxiety and distress for both the patient and their loved ones.

Across CCO, multiple program areas are working to improve the cancer diagnostic process in Ontario. Below is a snapshot of current and upcoming work planned for these areas.

Diagnostic Assessment Programs (DAPs) have been developed across Ontario for specific cancer types including for colorectal, lung, and prostate cancer. DAPs manage and coordinate the entire process of a person's diagnostic care, from testing to a definitive diagnosis or rule out of cancer. In consultation with regional partners, patients and clinicians, the DAP Program has also developed the strategic plan, Navigating the Diagnostic Phase of Cancer: Ontario’s Strategic Directions 2014-2018 with the goal of advancing the delivery of all cancer diagnostic services.

Find out more about DAPs »

Disease Pathway Management (DPM) Program develops and maintains pathways that depict current evidence-based best practice for the diagnosis of all major cancers. Going forward DPM will work with the DAP Program to develop metrics and set targets to evaluate actual practice against the ideal described in the pathways and thus help identify where opportunities for improvement exist.

Find out more about Disease Pathway Management »

The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) uses a navigation model within OBSP assessment sites to ensure that women receive the appropriate follow-up tests after an abnormal screen. Women in the OBSP’s high risk screening program are followed by a navigator from the time of their initial referral through the entire screening journey. Both of these navigation models support the OBSP’s low lost-to-follow-up rate. CCO is also exploring the possibility of piloting patient navigators to facilitate follow-up of abnormal fecal occult blood test (FOBT) results. In April 2014, CCO launched the improved electronic Screening Activity Report (SAR) to eligible primary care physicians. The SAR helps physicians improve their screening rates, ensure follow-up tests are completed and provides physicians with a performance comparison against their peers.

Find out more about Cancer Screening »

The Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Program focuses on the screening and diagnostic components including staging of cancer care. Through this program, the quality of pathology and laboratory medicine services across Ontario is strengthened by monitoring and managing quality and access performance indicators. In conjunction with the Molecular Oncology Advisory Committee, the program provides oversight and administration of personalized medicine where all of your genetic information is used to predict and select the best cancer treatments for the patient.

Find out more about Pathology and Laboratory Medicine »

The Cancer Imaging Program is undertaking a synoptic radiology reporting initiative to improve and enhance reporting for diagnostic imaging by summarizing the important details of radiology results in a standardized report format. This will facilitate improved communication between health care providers and help to ensure appropriate imaging procedures are established for patients. The Cancer Imaging Program is also focusing on improving accessibility to cancer imaging, including interventional radiology and positron emission tomography (PET), and province-wide quality initiatives for diagnostic imaging.

Find out more about Cancer Imaging »

To support the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s Wait Time Strategy and Emergency Room and Alternate Level of Care Information Strategy, the Access to Care program is dedicated to looking at patient wait times and helping the healthcare community address these issues through the use of information and technologies.

One area of focus under the ATC program is Surgery and Diagnostic Imaging Wait Times, which is responsible for measuring two primary wait time indicators. The first is the time from referral received to first consult, referred to as Wait 1. The second period is the time from decision-to-treat to the date the procedure is performed, also referred to as Wait 2. Both of these wait times are measured using the Ontario Wait Time Information System (WTIS).

Find out more about Access to Care »

Cancer Surgeons play a key role in the diagnosis (biopsy to determine malignancy, interpretation of results) and staging (evaluations to determine size and extent of tumour) of cancer. The Surgical Oncology Program implements clinical guideline recommendations for diagnosis and staging to ensure the appropriate treatment options are provided to cancer patients.

Find out more about Surgical Oncology »

Multidisciplinary cancer conferences (MCCs) are regularly scheduled meetings or videoconferences that enable health care providers from different disciplines and backgrounds (e.g., doctors, nurses) to discuss and make recommendations on the best way to handle the care of individual cancer patients. The main purpose of the MCC is to make sure that all appropriate diagnostic tests and treatment options are considered, and the most appropriate treatment recommendations are generated for each patient.

Find out more about Multidisciplinary Cancer Conferences »

Last modified: Tue, May 19, 2015
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