Q: Time to treat is on the rise nationally ― and it’s associated with worsened survival, according to a recent study presented at ASCO. How have you achieved reductions in time to treat for colorectal, breast and GI cancers and what efforts are ongoing?
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A: Time to treat for cancer patients is a huge focus for us at the Digestive Disease & Surgery Institute.
While there is surprisingly little evidence showing that a longer time to treat makes cancer outcomes worse, we are all concerned that any unnecessary wait can only be a bad thing. Perhaps more important, any wait is obviously very distressing for a patient who has recently been diagnosed with a condition that’s stressful for them, their family and their friends.
We’re putting a lot of effort into time to treat at Cleveland Clinic. We are optimizing physicians’ schedules and providing them with the proper support so we can give our patients better access to our care. For many services, we also have weekly or more frequent “huddles,” in which physicians, nurses and our navigation team members come together to get patients in with the right physician or surgeon. The goal? To find where patients best fit into the schedule, allowing them the quickest access to the most suitable and personalized treatment.
In addition, we have multidisciplinary tumor boards for all of the cancers that we treat at Cleveland Clinic. Every cancer patient has his or her case discussed by a team of physicians, surgeons, oncologists, radiologists and radiation oncologists who come up with an individualized treatment plan.
These tumor boards allows us to track the date of diagnosis and actively manage the patient’s pathway through any necessary investigations or testing before treatment is initiated. It also ensures our whole team is on the same page about coordinating treatment.
The result? A patient-centered system that individualizes and perfects the right treatment pathway for each patient ― all while moving the patient through the pathway of testing and treatment as expediently as possible.
— Conor Delaney, MD, PhD
Chairman, Digestive Disease & Surgery Institute Cleveland Clinic