Quality statement 1: Timely diagnosis

Quality statement

People with suspected breast cancer referred to specialist services are offered the triple diagnostic assessment in a single hospital visit. [new 2016]

Rationale

Early diagnosis of breast cancer allows for prompt treatment, which results in better health outcomes for people with breast cancer. Giving people with suspected breast cancer the triple diagnostic assessment at a single hospital visit will help to ensure rapid diagnosis. It will also help to reduce the anxiety and stress associated with multiple visits for different parts of the triple diagnostic assessment.

Quality measures

Structure

Evidence of local arrangements to ensure that specialist services carry out the triple diagnostic assessment at a single hospital visit in people referred with suspected breast cancer.

Data source: Local data collection.

Process

Proportion of people with suspected breast cancer referred to specialist services who receive the triple diagnostic assessment in a single visit.

Numerator – the number in the denominator who receive the triple diagnostic assessment in a single visit.

Denominator – the number of people with suspected breast cancer referred to specialist services.

Data source: Local cancer data.

Outcome

a) Stage at diagnosis of breast cancer.

Data source: Local data collection.

b) Breast cancer survival rates.

Data source: Local data collection.

What the quality statement means for service providers, healthcare professionals and commissioners

Service providers (such as secondary care services and specialist breast cancer services) ensure that systems are in place to provide triple diagnostic assessment in a single hospital visit for people referred to specialist services with suspected breast cancer.

Healthcare professionals (such as doctors, nurses and specialists) ensure that people with suspected breast cancer referred to specialist services have the triple diagnostic assessment in a single hospital visit.

Commissioners (such as clinical commissioning groups) ensure that they commission specialist services that provide triple diagnostic assessment in a single hospital visit for people with suspected breast cancer.

What the quality statement means for patients, people using services and carers

People who have been referred to a breast cancer specialist are offered a full assessment carried out at a single visit to the hospital or specialist unit. The assessment involves an examination, breast imaging and a biopsy (if needed). During the biopsy a small amount of breast tissue is removed and tested for cancer. Having the assessment in a single visit helps to ensure that people receive a quick diagnosis and do not need to make several hospital visits.

Source guidance

Improving outcomes in breast cancer (2002) NICE guideline CSG1, page 33

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Triple diagnostic assessment

This consists of clinical assessment, mammography and/or ultrasound imaging, and fine needle aspiration or core biopsy.

[Improving outcomes in breast cancer (NICE guideline CSG1)]