Questions for your Breast Cancer Specialists:
- Will you present my cancer case to a Breast Center team?
- How do your quality statistics compare to benchmark standards?
- Would you share with me your quality statistics?
Receiving Quality Care
Your goal is to only undergo the treatments you need to get the best outcome. Some of these approaches can be measured. They are called “quality measures.”
Quality care is difficult to achieve. Newer technologies must be blended with standard-of-care treatments to achieve the best results. Breast cancer care requires a team of specialists dedicated to searching for the best treatment approach for you. You can make yourself a part of that team by engaging your physicians at every appointment.
Part of receiving the best care may involve a long-term, close “human relationship” with your physicians. Asking questions about your care will help to engage your physician about your needs and desires. This route may lead to you receiving the best care possible.
Why Are Quality Statistics Important?
- “Health Care Quality” is a movement to improve quality and value to all aspects of healthcare and cancer care.
- Collecting statistics about specific aspects of cancer treatment is an essential part of improving outcomes nationwide.
- There are now “benchmark” statistics for surgical procedures, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. For example, these can include measuring successful outcomes or rates of specific complications.
- Quality statistics are just a small, but important part of quality breast cancer care. Inquire with your physicians about their own quality measures.
Seek Cutting-Edge Advances for Quality Care
- Quality care is still mostly dependent upon standard treatments.
- Cutting-edge technologies are an important part of modern breast cancer care.
- Seek out the best breast cancer specialists in your area. They likely already embrace cutting-edge advances.
Examples of Quality Measures
- National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) A few NAPBC quality measures include: the percentage of breast cancers diagnosed with needle biopsies (best approach) rather than surgical biopsies, success in placing patients in clinical trials, and adherence to breast cancer staging guidelines.
- Breast Surgeon quality measures include: rates of infection after surgery, offering breast reconstruction when a mastectomy is performed, and the frequency of re-operations after a lumpectomy surgery to ensure clear margins.
- Medical Oncologist quality measures include: hospitalization rates for complications of chemotherapy, success of administering all the recommended doses of chemotherapy, assurance that patients take their hormonal medications.
- Radiation Oncologist quality measures include: rates of completion of recommended radiation treatment courses, skin and lymphedema rates, and rate of recurrence of cancer in the area treated by radiation.
How Do I Get Quality Care?
- Seek breast cancer specialists who participate in an NAPBC accredited breast center. To achieve this designation, the team of breast specialists must review and report their own quality statistics and cancer outcomes.
- The best scenario is when your individual physicians or NAPBC accredited breast center share with you their own quality outcome statistics.
- You should feel reassured when your breast surgeon, medical oncologist, or radiation oncologist shares with you an interest and commitment to benchmark quality standards.
Register for our newsletter & “Cutting Edge” questions
Sign-up for our “Breast Health Updates & Latest Videos“ (here). Once registered, we’ll immediately email you our complete list of “Cutting Edge” questions to engage your breast surgeon, medical oncologist, and radiation oncologist. We help you to get quality breast cancer care in your community.
The Susan G. Komen organization is a leading advocacy group dedicated to assisting patients, funding research, and ensuring quality breast cancer care. Their page (here) “Getting Quality Care” is a good overview.
- National Comprehensive Cancer Network – nccn.org
Download these well-organized guides about breast cancer treatment by stage. (NCCN Guidelines for Patients). The NCCN is a consortium of organizations and governmental agencies to promote quality breast cancer care.
This page (here) “NAPBC Fact Sheet” outlines the concept of Breast Centers. The National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers is a group of national, professional organizations dedicated to improving breast cancer care. This website page (here) “Find an Accredited Breast Center Near You” helps you search for breast centers that have completed the NAPBC accreditation process.
This excellent one-page fact sheet (here) describes NAPBC accredited breast centers. EduCare Inc. is a dedicated breast health education company.
More Detailed References:
This downloadable “NAPBC Accreditation Booklet” (here) shows details of the accreditation process and its level of involvement across the country. The National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers is a group of national, professional organizations dedicated to improving breast cancer care.