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Colorectal Dis. 2008 Jul;10(6):569-76. Epub 2007 Nov 19.

Straight to test. Results of a pilot study in a hospital serving an inner city population.

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1
Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Academic Unit of Medical and Surgical Gastroenterology, Homerton Hospital, Homerton Row, London, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The main aims of the study were to determine the frequency with which two-week wait (2ww) referrals for colorectal cancer (CRC) could proceed directly to straight to test (STT), and the potential improvement in time to diagnosis.

METHOD:

A telephone interview was attempted in all 2ww referrals not requiring an advocate and under 80 years. Data were assessed according to a test protocol, and where indicated a potential slot for the appropriate investigation was recorded (virtual test). All patients proceeded to clinic, following which differences in time from GP referral to virtual compared with actual requested test, and any discrepancies between virtual and requested tests were analysed.

RESULTS:

Between 8th January and 16th February 2007, there were 42 2ww referrals. Twenty-one patients were contacted, of whom 14 were suitable for STT: 13 virtual colonoscopies and one CT scan were booked. Following out-patient consultation, eight colonoscopies; three flexible sigmoidoscopies, one barium enema, and two CT scans were actually booked. There was a difference of 15.5 days between the median times of the virtual and actual test. During this 6-week period a total of nine patients were diagnosed with CRC, of whom three were referred via the 2ww pathway, but none were suitable for STT.

CONCLUSIONS:

This 'straight to test' pilot study suggests a potential strategy for reducing the time to diagnosis and therefore first treatment of those identified with CRC, and offers a methodology for individual hospitals to assess their suitability to employ such a strategy.

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