Personalizing Cancer Care with Clinical Pathways

Pictured: Courtesy NIH, Coihueco Engdahl

It can be difficult to make decisions, especially when you’re faced with a cancer diagnosis. For most cancers, there are many treatment options, depending on the type and extent of the disease, any other health conditions you have and other treatments you have received. And the maze of choices has grown, because cancer care is changing rapidly with advancing technology and new discoveries.

To zero in on the very best options for each patient, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center now uses clinical pathways. Pathways are tools that enable doctors to personalize your treatment plan at the time of diagnosis. Pathways also ensure that all our patients receive the highest level of care.

What is cancer pathway?

Doctors use pathways to identify all treatments for your stage and type of cancer — including any clinical trials for which you might be eligible — so they can tailor a plan to your specific needs.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Your doctor enters detailed information about your cancer, as well as any other health conditions or concerns, into Via Oncology, our pathway software program.
  2. The pathway identifies the treatments that are appropriate for you, including any clinical trials available at Roswell Park.
  3. You and your doctor will use this pathway recommendation to make final decisions about your treatment options and make the best decision for your care.

Clinical pathways are based on national practice guidelines that identify the best treatment options available for each type of cancer. Roswell Park doctors are key members of teams that develop these practice guidelines, which are updated at least once a year or whenever a new treatment becomes available.

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"Many hospitals and oncology doctors are starting to use pathways to help doctors with treatment decisions," says Kazuaki Takabe MD, PhD, FACS, FSSO Chief of Breast Surgery at Roswell Park. "Roswell Park is among the first to also use pathways to help patients fully understand their treatment choices and the reasons why a treatment is recommended, as well as to provide patients with pathway-based education materials personalized to their diagnosis and treatment plan."

The new program offers an added layer of confidence during a time of important choices.