Patients and Radiation Treatment
Radiation treatment plays an important role in the cancer journey
Radiotherapy is effective and safe treatment for cancer. In Canada approximately 50% of cancer patients will be benefit from this treatment at some point in their cancer journey. The Canadian Partnership for Quality Radiotherapy (CPQR) was established in 2010 as a national partnership committed to supporting the delivery of safe and high quality radiation treatment for all Canadians.
Media attention on radiation treatment has meant that more patients are interested in learning more about the quality of their radiation treatment and want assurances that the treatment they receive is safe. CPQR programs have been designed in consultation with doctors, cancer program leaders, provincial cancer agencies and international leaders. Our priority is ensuring that the radiation treatment delivered in Canada remains safe and that cancer centres can learn from the experiences of others to continue to deliver quality care that is world-class.
Our programs focus on:
- Making sure that radiation treatment programs and delivery processes work consistently across the country
- Making sure that the technology and equipment used to deliver radiation to patients works safely and as intended by the manufacturer
- Making it easier for cancer centres to learn from mistakes made by others
- Making sure that patients are satisfied with the quality of care they are receiving
Engaging patients in our work
CPQR has a well-established group of patient representatives from across the Country. These individuals sit on all our committees and help shape our work. Arming patients with the tools needed to help their voice be heard at a table of medical professionals was (is) important. CPQR provided(s) training to its volunteers, and continues to support their work by hosting regular “gab sessions.”
In 2016 and 2017 CPQR also launched a series of “more than just lip-service” initiatives that gave patient volunteers a chance to present CPQR work at professional conferences and symposia across North America. If you are interested in learning more about the CPQR patient representative program please contact us.
CPQR is now focusing on Patient Reported Outcomes
PRO = Patient Reported Outcomes are standardized, questionnaires that ask patients about their health status and quality of life.
By sharing this important information, your care team will have a better understanding of your symptoms, your quality of life and your emotional wellbeing. This information can help them understand your needs in terms of education, support and treatment. Radiation treatment centres that support the collection and use PROs recognize the benefits of this personalized approach to your care and believe that it supports patient empowerment and satisfaction.
PROMs (Patient Reported Outcome Measures) offer a common language to interact with your clinician, trigger recall to pertinent symptoms, and facilitate quicker response times due to screening results.
The following are some examples of questions that may be included in a PROM:
What is radiation therapy?
Radiation can be used to treat cancer and improve the quality of life for patients. Radiation treatment is given in one of two ways:
- Externally through the use of either x-rays or electron beams that target specific areas of the body
- Internally, where radioactive seeds are inserted into a specific area of the body. This type of radiation therapy is traditionally used to treat prostate or gynecological cancers.
Unfortunately there are a number of myths about radiation therapy that can cause undue stress for cancer patients. Together with our partner the Canadian Association of Radiation Oncology (CARO), the Canadian Radiation Oncology Foundation (CROF) has prepared a Myth Buster that, together with information from your doctor, can help answer your questions about radiation treatment.
The Accelerated Education Program at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, Ontario has prepared a video on radiation quality and safety measures in place at cancer centres across the country. They welcome you to view this video, located in the sidebar, and learn more about how radiation treatment can become a safe part of your cancer treatment plan.
Promoting Patient Value Through Education
Providing timely and appropriate education is the key to establishing informed shared patient decision making. There exists great variability in how radiation treatment centres across Canada approach the development of patient education programs. CPQR will conduct an environmental scan to determine the types of education materials available to patients and their families and provision of such to patients and their families. By setting guidelines to support improved radiation treatment program understanding, it will strengthen adherence to Accreditation Canada’s Cancer Care Standards for patient education.
What is CPQR’s approach?
To develop patient education guidelines for Canadian radiation treatment programs we intend to:
- Establish a patient education working group that includes patients, patient education and engagement experts, radiation oncologists, therapists and medical physicists
- Conduct an environmental can of presently existing patient initiatives on a local, provincial and national level and focus on delivery and materials associated with patient education
What are the long-term objectives?
This work will establish early guidelines to support improved understanding of what information and education is required for patients undergoing radiation treatment. This will lay the groundwork for more robust guideline validation and endorsement by both health care providers, patients and their families.