There are certain elements that experts agree should be present in a system of that takes the best possible care of people with cancer, from the time they are diagnosed throughout their lives. Some of these characteristics are:
- Quality cancer care requires that a physician be available to dedicate sufficient expertise, time, and other resources to explain the diagnosis in a manner consistent with the patient's cultural and educational background to ensure that the patient will be a truly informed consumer of medical services.
- Quality care also compels the physician to explain fully the treatment options, including clinical trials, so that the patient may be meaningfully involved in decisions about the course of his or her therapy.
- Quality care means that all medical providers associated with a patient's care should be mindful of symptoms associated with cancer and their treatments, including pain, nausea, and fatigue, and should be prepared to address those symptoms aggressively and effectively.
- Quality care means that the physician and staff must administer treatment competently, monitor for side effects and offer treatments to manage such side effects.
- Quality care means that the physician evaluates the effectiveness of treatment, explains treatment results to patients and their families and helps patients decide on additional treatment or other post-treatment plans.
- Quality care means that patients must have access to ancillary support for psychosocial, nutritional or other related counseling needs, particularly with respect to end-of-life issues.
- Quality cancer care requires that patients have access to new therapies based on demonstrated clinical benefits.
Cancer Quality Care
Source: Maria Hewitt and Joseph V. Simone, Editors. Ensuring Quality Cancer Care. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
- Access to care in clinical trials, which requires educating providers and patients about clinical trial options and appropriate payment for the routine costs associated with clinical trials.
- Access to new cancer therapies through an efficient review and timely approval process by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that is sensitive to the special needs of people with cancer.
- Access to comprehensive third-party payment systems that are focused on the quality of care and not solely the cost of care.
- Access to patient assistance programs and other unreimbursed care for those in need, and vigorous advocacy in support of systematic change to ensure broader coverage in the longer term.
- Access to appropriate palliative and supportive care to ensure that survivors receive quality care throughout their lifespan and not only at the end of life.