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System Performance

Measuring Wait Times for Cancer Surgeries


Priority levels and target times for cancer surgeries in Ontario are set by surgeons, specialists and health care administrators across the province, based on clinical evidence, to guide treatment decisions and to improve patient access and outcomes.

Wait times for cancer surgeries in Ontario are measured and reported for two periods. (Data excludes patients who did not have the surgery after their first appointment with a surgeon.)

Time to patient's first cancer surgical appointment: How long patients waited from a surgeon or central intake office receiving the referral from the patient's doctor, to the patient's first appointment with the surgeon.

Time from decision to having cancer surgery: How long patients waited from deciding on surgery with the surgeon, to having the surgery.

Priority level for the patient's condition

Clinical description

Target time* to patient's first cancer surgical appointment

Target time** from decision to having cancer surgery

Priority 1

High suspicion of cancer, or biopsy is positive. Life or limb-threatening condition

The patient sees surgeon within 24 hours of referral received

The patient has the surgery within 24 hours of decision

Priority 2

High suspicion of cancer, or biopsy is positive

Patient sees surgeon within 10 days of the referral received

Patient has the surgery within 14 days of decision

Priority 3

High suspicion of cancer that does not meet the criteria of Priority 2 or Priority 4

Patient sees surgeon within 21 days of referral received

Patient has the surgery within 28 days of decision

Priority 4

Intermediate suspicion of cancer, or biopsy is positive

Patient sees surgeon within 35 days of the referral received

Patient has the surgery within 84 days of decision

*The target time within which 9 out of 10 patients are seen.

**The target time within which 9 out of 10 patients are treated.

See what this means for patients

Measurement Numbers Used for Cancer Surgery Wait Times

Data for the wait times for cancer surgeries is reported using these measurement numbers:

  • The average number of days patients waited; a lower number is better.
  • The percentage of cancer patients seen, or treated, within the target time; a higher percentage is better.
  • Data Sources for Cancer Surgery Wait Times

    The data comes from the Wait Time Information System™ (WTIS™), Cancer Care Ontario.

TIME TO PATIENT'S FIRST CANCER SURGICAL APPOINTMENT

How long patients waited from the referral received, to the patient's first surgical appointment

Learn more

doctor consulting with patient who has cancer

TIME FROM DECISION TO HAVING CANCER SURGERY

How long patients waited from deciding on cancer surgery with the surgeon, to having the surgery

Learn more

two surgeons looking at a patient’s scan

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