Effect of delays on survival in patients with lung cancer

Clin Transl Oncol. 2010 Dec;12(12):836-42. doi: 10.1007/s12094-010-0606-5.


Background: The effect on survival of delays in the consultation, diagnostic and treatment processes of lung cancer (LC) is still under debate. The objective of our study was to analyse these time delays and their possible effect on survival.

Methods: A retrospective study has been performed on all patients in our health area diagnosed with LC (confirmed by cytohistology) over 3 years. The delay in specialist consultation (time between start of symptoms and the first consultation with a specialist), hospital delay (time between first consultation and start of treatment) and overall delay (the sum of the previous two delays) were analysed. The influence of each of these delays was calculated using Cox regression, adjusted for other factors.

Results: A total of 415 patients were included. Of these, 92.5% were male and 75.4% were in stages III-B or IV. The overall delay gave a mean of 123.6 days, the delay in consulting a specialist 82.1 days and the delay in hospitalisation was 41.4 days. A greater overall delay or greater hospital delay was associated with longer survival. No relationship was observed between the specialist consultation delay and survival.

Conclusions: Globally analysing all the cases and all the stages with LC, it is seen that longer delays are associated with longer survival. This probably reflects the fact that patients with more symptoms are treated more rapidly.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors