We analysed survival in relation both to time to treatment and other clinical parameters in the care pathway of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. Medical notes of 189 patients diagnosed with NSCLC presenting in 1998 were reviewed. Median time to treatment in all patients was 48 days. In multivariate analysis, time to treatment did not affect survival in patients with any stage of disease. Referral from general practitioner to chest department (P=0.032, HR=0.08), and absence of use of surgery (P=0.006, HR=30.30) were independently significant predictors of survival in stages 1 and 2 subgroup. In stage 3 patients, absence of laboratory abnormality (P=0.002, HR=0.39), and use of combined treatment (P=0.015, HR=0.17) were independent prognosticators. Lastly, in patients with stage 4 disease, presence of bone and/or liver metastasis (P=0.005, HR=2.65), and absence of use of chemotherapy (P<0.001, HR=6.25) were significantly associated with shorter survival. As survival is dependent on classical prognosticators, but not on time from referral to treatment (hospital delay), expanding resources in oncology (equipment, drugs and personnel), and, perhaps, reducing patient delay, rather than reducing hospital delay alone, could be better strategies to improve NSCLC survival.