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Optimal care pathways

The best cancer journey for specific cancer types

The optimal care pathways describe a model of cancer care that puts the patient at the centre of care decisions. They describe a national standard of high-quality cancer care that all Australians should expect. 

The optimal care pathways aim to improve patient outcomes through promoting quality cancer care and ensuring that all people diagnosed with cancer receive the best care, irrespective of where they live or receive cancer treatment.

Cancer Council Victoria, supported by the Victorian Government, has recently undertaken work to refresh the optimal care pathways, quick reference guides and guides to best cancer care (formerly named the what to expect guides) for 15 cancer types (2nd edition).

The 2nd edition of the optimal care pathways for cancer of unknown primary, cervical cancer and sarcoma are currently in progress.  

The optimal care pathways are endorsed by Cancer Australia, the former National Cancer Expert Reference Group (a committee that reported to the former Australian Health Ministers Advisory Committee and, through this committee, to the former Council of Australian Governments Health Council) and all states and territories. The optimal care pathways have Australia-wide acceptance and government support. The optimal care pathways are being implemented nationally.

The optimal care pathways are available in their full version or as a quick reference guide.

Browse the quick reference guides

Downloadable information for your patients

Guides to best cancer care

The short guides help patients, carers and families understand the optimal cancer care that should be provided at each step. They include optimal timeframes within which tests or procedures should be completed, prompt lists to support patients to understand what might happen at each step of their cancer journey and to consider what questions to ask, and provide information to help patients and carers communicate with health professionals.

Optimal Care Pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 

This optimal care pathway complements the best practice information provided in the cancer-specific pathways to facilitate the delivery of culturally safe and competent care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It outlines the aspects of the cancer care pathway that need to be responsive to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer. It is also available as a quick reference guide. 

For general practitioners and practice managers 

To support you, your practice, and your patients, you can: 

  • Refer newly diagnosed cancer patients to the 'Guides to best cancer care' and print and provide them with a copy of the relevant cancer type consumer guides.
  • Import the GP quick reference guides and consumer version PDFs into you GP software.

For more information regarding the optimal care pathways, or to send feedback, please email 

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