Link to Queensland Government (
QOOL  Queensland Cancer Control Analysis Team

Cancer Surgery in Queensland

Infocus- access and flows 2013

Queensland Cancer Control Safety and Quality Partnership
Driving clinician led service improvement

The Queensland Cancer Control Safety and Quality Partnership (The Partnership) was established in 2004 with a single goal; clinician-led service improvement. The Partnership aims to achieve this by providing the cancer community with the systems and tools to routinely review share and compare data on cancer treatment and outcomes. Involving cancer clinicians in deciding how to achieve the best possible cancer outcomes is our priority. The Partnership is a gazetted quality assurance committee under Part 6, Division 1 of the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011. This legislation allows The Partnership to access identifiable information and use it to better understand the safety and quality of the cancer care services delivered across Queensland. Compiling the data has been an important part of our work since 2004. The Partnership is supported by the Queensland Cancer Control Analysis Team (QCCAT).

Queensland's resource for informing cancer care

QCCAT undertakes the analysis and interpretation of data and advises on the best use of cancer data for service improvement. QCCAT's program of work brings the best and the brightest talent together. Many of the clinicians involved are not only internationally recognised leaders in their fields, but are also practising clinicians who understand the grassroots of health care delivery, making our analysis services clinically focused and useful in changing practices. Other team members have statistical training, epidemiological backgrounds, software development, project management, health services research and leadership and clinician engagement expertise. The variety of skill sets and educational backgrounds ensure a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care dilemmas and creates a real world mosaic of perspectives that is vital to shaping Queensland's future cancer care. QCCAT collaborates with experts from a diverse network of hospitals, institutions, universities, non-government agencies, professional organisations and patient groups to ensure clinical, educational and policy relevance.

What we know about patterns of cancer surgery in Queensland

In 2006 The Partnership published the results of a statewide patterns of care study: Treating cancer in Queensland Public Hospitals: service improvement starts here. The aim of this study was to identify specific areas for improvement in cancer services in Queensland public hospitals. This report builds on the 2006 patterns of care study by providing population information on surgery rates for more cancers. However, since cancer surgery was a key component of the analysis it also provides important historical data on surgery rates for breast and colorectal cancers. For example, in 2006 surgery rates were similar for urban and rural public patients and the combined rate of cancer surgery for breast, colon, rectal, prostate and head and neck cancers was 70%1. Now that QCCAT are able to routinely match and link patient data it has been possible to update and broaden this initial study and provide a fresh look at current patterns of cancer surgery in Queensland.

Why do we need Cancer Surgery in Queensland: Infocus - access and flows 2013?

In 2013 an estimated 27,165 new cases of invasive cancer will be diagnosed among Queensland residents. Cancer is the leading cause of burden of disease and injury in Queensland3, and will claim 9,210 lives in 20132. With the ageing population, the number of new cases is expected to reach 35,055 by 2021.

This first release of Cancer Surgery in Queensland: Infocus - access and flows 2013 includes chapters on breast, colon and rectal, lung and upper gastrointestinal cancers. Future chapters will provide information on prostate, bladder, pancreas, hepatobiliary and gynaecological cancers.

The Queensland Government has a strong commitment to empowering local communities and the healthcare workforce to make decisions about local healthcare needs.

In 2013 the Queensland government launched its Blue print for better health care for Queensland 4, which has four principal themes:

  1. Health services focused on patients and people.
  2. Empowering the community and our health workforce.
  3. Providing Queenslanders with value in health services.
  4. Investing, innovating and planning for the future.

Access to high quality cancer care is a key priority for Queensland's health policy agenda.

Surgery is a critical component of the curative treatment of most cancers with many cancers diagnosed and treated surgically. This first release of Cancer Surgery in Queensland: Infocus - access and flows 2013 is focused on two dimensions of access to cancer care services - surgery rates and flows. The chapters provide population wide information on rates of surgery provision and patient flows based on patient Hospital and Health Service (HHS) of residence. The chapters contain information on cancer surgery in Queensland from 2001 - 2010 and reflections on the trends in the data observed over the most recent three year time period 2008 - 2010.

Cancer Surgery in Queensland: Infocus - access and flows 2013 provides, for the first time, a population profile for cancer surgery in Queensland and the HHSs. It also describes the characteristics of cancer patients who receive surgery. Importantly, it provides information on the number and demographic characteristics of cancer patients who do not receive surgery and where they live according to HHS of residence.

The baseline information provided in these chapters will be vital when it comes to measuring the success of the Blueprint, both next year and in the longer term. In addition it informs the planning and funding of cancer services, provides HHSs with locally meaningful information and contributes to our understanding of variation in cancer surgery across Queensland. Important differences in the management of different cancer types prohibit the development of a single target surgery rate for all cancer surgeries. The prognosis of cancer is dependent upon cancer stage and numerous other factors and it is difficult to know the natural rate of spread from local to distal sites for most cancers. Even so, several standards have been discussed for individual cancer surgery rates and Queensland is now able to compare with other Australian states and territories, internationally and published literature.

Cancer Surgery in Queensland: Infocus - access and flows 2013 is framed around five important questions relevant to cancer surgery in Queensland.

  1. How many Queenslanders who are newly diagnosed with cancer have a surgical procedure as a result of their diagnosis?
  2. What are the characteristics of Queenslanders who have a surgical procedure as a result of their cancer diagnosis and Queenslanders newly diagnosed with cancer that do not have a surgical procedure?
  3. What types of surgery are performed for patients who are diagnosed with cancer?
  4. What volume of surgery is performed by Hospital and Health Services for Queenslanders newly diagnosed with cancer?
  5. Where do patients receive their surgery?

This document is the background paper for the individual chapters in the Cancer Surgery in Queensland: Infocus - access and flows 2013 series available here.

Last updated: Nov 11, 2013
© The State of Queensland, Queensland Health (QCCAT), 2017