It is commonly known that in the course of neoplastic disease a diagnosis and therapy should be perform as fast as possible. It is particularly important for lung cancer patients. The goal of this study was to assess the diagnosis and therapy delay in unselected group of lung cancer patients, registered in Pulmonary Outpatients Clinics in all parts of Poland.
Material: 20,561 lung cancer patients were registered in Pulmonary Outpatients Clinics in all parts of Poland from 1995 to 1998.
Results: The median delay caused by patients was about 46 days. In 33 provinces symptoms of the disease preceded diagnosis 28 to 50 days and in other 26 provinces--50 to 75 days. The median delay caused by doctors (time between first visit to the doctor and the date of diagnosis) was 65 days. In 35 provinces it was 30 to 70 days and in other 14 provinces this delay was between 70-111 days. The median time between first visit to the doctor and the beginning of therapy was 84 days. The median time between diagnosis and therapy was 30 days. Because chest physicians were also involved in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer patients, so for patients registered in years 1996-1998 the causes of delay connected with the function of this medical speciality were assessed. Median time between first visit to the doctor and first visit to the chest specialist was 38 days. Median delay to bronchoscopy was 26 days and to the diagnosis 46 days.
Conclusion: Delay of diagnosis and therapy vary widely among different provinces of Poland. The delay generated by family doctors and chest physicians are very important and require a deeper evaluation on the province level in the future.