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Intern Med J. 2010 Feb;40(2):126-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.2009.01912.x. Epub 2009 Feb 13.

Lung cancer patients in Queensland suffer delays in receiving radiation therapy--but not as a result of distance.

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Princess Alexandra Hospital, Woolloongabba, Queensland, Australia.



To determine whether lung cancer radiation therapy waiting times in Queensland public hospitals are associated with distance of residence from the nearest treatment facility.


Retrospective analysis of radiation therapy waiting times of 1535 Queensland residents who were diagnosed with lung cancer from 2000 to 2004 and received radiation therapy as initial treatment at a public hospital. The effect of distance of residence from treatment centre on median waiting time was analysed by quantile regression controlling for sex, age, lung cancer histology, stage and therapeutic intent.


The median waiting time from diagnosis to start of radiation therapy was 33 days for all patients. There was no significant difference (P = 0.141) in median waiting times in relation to distance of residence from a treatment centre. However, in most patients, waiting times were significantly longer than recommended by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists. Curative patients waited longer than palliative patients, while patients with earlier stage cancer waited longer than those with more advanced disease.


Waiting times for radiation therapy among lung cancer patients in Queensland was not associated with distance from place of residence to the nearest public treatment facility. However, delays overall are excessive and are likely to worsen unless radiation treatment capabilities are enhanced to keep pace with population growth in Queensland.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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