Tue, Nov 20, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Health bureau applauds cancer care

By Meggie Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Department of Health's Bureau of Health Promotion yesterday commended four medical establishments for their outstanding performance in cancer treatment under the department's plan to standardize and improve the nation's quality of comprehensive cancer care.

"The plan was implemented to improve cancer patient survival rates," the bureau's head of Cancer Control and Prevention Kung Hsien-lan (孔憲蘭) said at a press conference, adding that the plan stemmed from the Regulations for Cancer Care Quality Assurance Measures (癌症診療品質保證措施準則) established in 2005.

"In the past physicians diagnosed and treated cancer patients relying on personal judgment and experience," she said. "However, if we can formulate a standardized treatment plan using what we learn statistically from positive treatment outcomes, we can help medical professionals execute evidence-based practice and improve the treatment success rate."

"The implementation of the plan does not mean that previous treatments were inadequate; rather, the plan is an improvement upon the past," she said.

The plan has two stages, Kung said, adding that the first spanned from 2001 to 2004 and sponsored 17 hospitals.

After the Regulation was passed in 2005, the plan expanded to sponsoring 27 hospitals and mandated participating cancer centers to establish core treatment-quality committees, systematically case-manage cancer patients for evidence-based practice, improve cancer care quality by involving multidisciplinary professionals and regularly train and evaluate related personnel.

Representatives from the commended hospitals said that conscientious and evidence-based cancer treatments should involve accurate diagnoses, interdisciplinary consensus on treatment methods, written treatment plans and comprehensive patient management and care.

"[Under the plan] we have been holding daily departmental consensus meetings to make sure of our diagnostic accuracy. We also document every case in a standardized form for future statistical and clinical reference," said Tsou Mei-hua (曹美華), a laboratory physician at Koo Foundation Sun Yat-sen Cancer Center Department of Pathology.

"Before the plan, different physicians could decide on different drug dosages or size of treatment areas," China Medical University Hospital Section Chief of Hematology and Oncology, Chiu Chang-fang (邱昌芳) said.

"But since the effects of treatment are usually not immediately noticeable, the standardization gives physicians guidelines that are statistically sound and evidence-based," Chiu said.

An example he cited patients who define "good doctors" as those whose radiation treatment does not induce vomiting or hair-loss.

"However if we look at the five-year prognosis, inadequate dosage may lead to a higher mortality rate," he said.

Since the implementation of the plan, the rate of referrals and interdisciplinary collaboration also increased, he said.

"While we are bound to the plan, the standardization is a good reference to help physicians choose the best feasible treatment plan for their patients," Chang Gung Memorial Hospital Pulmonary Oncology and Interventional Endoscopic Therapy Section-chief Yu Chih-teng (余志騰) said.

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