Aims: The aim of this study was to examine the incidence of the delay in the diagnosis of colorectal carcinoma, possible causes of this delay and its effects on outcome.
Methods: A prospective study was performed on 100 patients affected by colorectal cancer. Duration of symptoms was calculated from the date of onset of symptoms to the date of surgery.
Results: Sixty-nine patients suffered delays in treatment of more than 12 weeks from the onset of symptoms. In patients with symptoms of less than 12 weeks' duration there was a higher incidence of radical surgery and none of these patients presented, at the time of surgery, a neoplastic dissemination. Multivariate analysis, however, showed that the only factors with an independent effect on 5-year survival and disease-free survival were Dukes' stage and the presence of pre-operative complications.
Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that, independent of the diagnostic delay, the outcome of the colorectal cancer is only conditioned by tumour stage and by complicated cancer.