Wait times in the management of non–small cell lung carcinoma before, during and after regionalization of lung cancer care: a high-resolution analysis Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Background: Timeliness can have a substantial effect on treatment outcomes, prognosis and quality of life for patients with lung cancer. We sought to evaluate changes in wait times for patients with non–small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) and to identify bottlenecks in cancer care. Methods: We included patients who received treatment with curative intent or palliative treatment for NSCLC, diagnosed through mediastinal staging by a thoracic surgeon. Data were collected from 3 cohorts over 3 time periods: before the regionalization of lung cancer care (2005–2007, C1), immediately postregionalization (2011–2013, C2) and 5 years after regionalization (2016–2017, C3). Total wait time and delays along treatment pathways were compared across cohorts using multivariate Cox proportionality models. Results: Our total sample size was 299 patients. Overall, there was no significant difference in total wait time among the 3 cohorts. However, wait time from symptom onset to first physician visit significantly increased in C3 compared with C2 (hazard ratio [HR] 0.41, p < 0.01) and C1 (HR 0.43, p < 0.01). Time from first physician visit to computed tomography (CT) scan significantly decreased in C3 compared with C2 (HR 1.54, p < 0.01). Time from abnormal CT scan to first surgeon visit also significantly decreased in C2 (HR 1.43, p < 0.01) and C3 (HR 4.47, p < 0.01) compared with C1, and between C3 and C2 (HR 2.67, p < 0.01). In contrast, time from first surgeon visit to completion of staging significantly increased in C2 (HR 0.36, p < 0.01) and C3 (HR 0.24, p < 0.01) compared with C1, as well as between C3 and C2 (HR 0.60, p < 0.01). Time to first treatment after completion of staging was significantly shorter for C3 than C1 (HR 1.58, p < 0.01). Conclusion: Trends toward a reduction in wait time are evident 5 years after the regionalization of lung cancer care, primarily led by shorter wait times for CT scans and thoracic surgeon consults. However, wait times can further be reduced by addressing delays in staging completion and patient and provider education to identify the early signs of NSCLC.

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publication date

  • March 26, 2021