The QuickStart Program at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre offers women with early-stage breast cancer expedited treatment planning and delivery of the first radiation treatment in one day (Video: RMP)
Why was QuickStart developed?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women, such that 1 out of 9 women is expected to develop breast cancer in her lifetime.
Whole breast radiation therapy (RT) is the standard treatment option for women with breast cancer following breast-conserving surgery (also called lumpectomy). At the Princess Margaret, this treatment accounts for more than 60% of all breast cancer patients treated with high-precision intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). Patients with early-stage breast cancer often experience delays in their treatment prior to radiation therapy, which may impact their treatment experience and outcome. Thus, the Princess Margaret has established an innovative and more effective model of care to treat patients and prevent further delays in RT.
What is QuickStart?
The award-winning QuickStart program was established in 2010 to streamline the breast RT process. It was created through the combined efforts of a multidisciplinary team comprised of radiation oncologists, medical physicists, clinical specialist radiation therapist, dosimetrists and radiation therapists.
QuickStart utilizes a prize-winning automated IMRT treatment planning software, designed by
Dr. Thomas Purdie, to decrease the time required to build treatment plans (from hours to minutes). Together, with the clinical expertise of a multidisciplinary radiation team, the QuickStart process expedites CT scans, treatment planning and delivery of the first radiation treatment, all to be completed in one day. QuickStart patients typically receive their first radiation treatment fraction within 24 hours of their initial CT scan, reducing the treatment waiting time by approximately 11 days compared to the conventional process. Thus, QuickStart offers breast cancer patients the same high quality and effective RT treatment without the unnecessary wait-time. It is now a standard treatment option offered to women with early-stage breast cancer at the Princess Margaret.
How does QuickStart benefit cancer patients?
QuickStart is beneficial to early-stage breast cancer patients who are at increased risk of having delays in their care, reasons for which are multifactorial and depend on factors such as the patient’s recovery from surgery, interprofessional and/or intercentre consult referrals. Patients may often experience some form of delay prior to their radiation oncology consult. By coordinating radiation therapy through the QuickStart process, patients start their breast RT within 24 hours of their initial CT scan. QuickStart can potentially compensate for pre-RT wait-time delays and avoid potential negative impacts on the patient’s treatment experience and outcome from extended treatment delays. Thus, QuickStart patients may experience less anxiety before the first radiation treatment and less financial burden (e.g. time off work, travel time), ultimately improving their quality of life. To date, QuickStart has benefited more than 375 early-stage breast cancer patients at the Princess Margaret.
How can patients enroll in QuickStart?
The QuickStart process is open to all early-stage breast cancer patients following breast-conserving surgery. QuickStart runs two weekly sessions for patients to be CT scanned and treated within 24 hours. Patients may be referred to one of the radiation oncologists (listed below) in the Breast Site Group either through the departmental referral process or by contacting one of the physicians directly.
Find out how to refer a patient to the Breast site group »
You can also contact the QuickStart coordinator at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 416 946 4501 ext. 3639.