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Eur J Cancer. 2017 Dec;87:113-121. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2017.10.003. Epub 2017 Nov 13.

Time to diagnosis and treatment for cancer patients in the Netherlands: Room for improvement?

Author information

1
Julius Centre for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Centre Utrecht, P.O. Box 85500, 3508 GA Utrecht, The Netherlands. Electronic address: C.W.Helsper-2@umcutrecht.nl.
2
Julius Centre for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Centre Utrecht, P.O. Box 85500, 3508 GA Utrecht, The Netherlands. Electronic address: N.F.vanErp@umcutrecht.nl.
3
Julius Centre for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Centre Utrecht, P.O. Box 85500, 3508 GA Utrecht, The Netherlands. Electronic address: P.H.M.Peeters@umcutrecht.nl.
4
Julius Centre for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Centre Utrecht, P.O. Box 85500, 3508 GA Utrecht, The Netherlands. Electronic address: N.J.deWit@umcutrecht.nl.

Abstract

BACKGROUND & AIM:

Reducing the duration of the diagnostic cancer care pathway is intensively pursued. The aim of this study was to chart the diagnostic pathway for the five most common cancers in the Netherlands.

METHODS:

A retrospective cohort study using cancer patients' anonymised primary care data (free text and coded) linked to the Netherlands Cancer Registry. We determined the median duration of the following: 1. Primary care intervals (IPCs): the first cancer-related general practitioner consultation to referral, 2. Referral intervals (IRs): referral to diagnosis, 3. Treatment intervals (ITs): diagnosis to treatment and the overarching intervals, 4. Diagnostic intervals (IDs): IPC and IR combined and 5. Health care intervals (IHCs): IPC, IR and IT combined.

RESULTS:

For 465, 309, 197, 237 and 149 patients diagnosed with breast-, colorectal-, lung-, prostate cancer and melanoma, respectively; median IPC, IR and ID durations were shortest for breast cancer and melanoma (ID duration 7 and 21 days, respectively), intermediate for lung- and colon cancer (ID duration 49 and 54 days) and the longest for prostate cancer (ID duration 137 days). For all cancers, the duration of intervals increased steeply for the 10-25% with longest durations. For colorectal cancer, increasing ID durations showed increasing proportions of time attributable to primary care (IPC).

CONCLUSION:

Approximately 10-25% of cancer patients show substantially long duration of diagnostic intervals. Reducing primary care delay seems particularly relevant for colorectal cancer.

KEYWORDS:

Cancer; Delay; Diagnosis; Diagnostic delay; Duration; General practice; Interval; Netherlands; Primary care

PMID:
29145037
DOI:
10.1016/j.ejca.2017.10.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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