Health targets: Faster cancer treatment

What is the target?

85% of patients receive their first cancer treatment (or other management) within 62 days of being referred with a high suspicion of cancer and a need to be seen within two weeks.

Public reporting on the Faster cancer treatment health target is based on six-months rolling data.

Why is this target area important?

Cancer is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in New Zealand, accounting for nearly one third of all deaths. We want to improve the quality of care and the patient’s experience across the cancer pathway. Prompt investigation, diagnosis and treatment is more likely to ensure better outcomes for cancer patients, and an assurance about the length of waiting time can reduce the stress on patients and families at a difficult time.

Significant improvements have been made in the quality of cancer services, and we need to continue those improvements. The target aims to support improvements in access and patient experience through the cancer pathway, including the period of investigations before treatment begins. It supports DHBs to monitor the whole cancer pathway from referral to first treatment to identify any bottlenecks in the system and opportunities for improvement that will benefit all cancer patients.

The 62-day timeframe is based on measures used internationally in both the UK and Canada. It is an internationally accepted timeframe for cancer treatment to begin and in many cases patients will start treatment sooner.

Who is the target champion?

Photo of Dr Andrew Simpson.Dr Andrew Simpson
National Clinical Director, Cancer Programme

Previous targets

Faster cancer treatment replaced Shorter waits for cancer treatment as the cancer health target from 1 October 2014. Under Shorter waits for cancer treatment, all patients, ready for treatment, wait less than four weeks for radiotherapy or chemotherapy. The Ministry continues to monitor DHB performance against the Shorter waits for cancer treatment measure.

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