Delay in Treatment After Cancer Diagnosis in Adolescents and Young Adults: Does Facility Transfer Matter?

J Adolesc Young Adult Oncol. 2019 Jun;8(3):243-253. doi: 10.1089/jayao.2018.0128. Epub 2019 Feb 20.


Background: Timeliness is one of the fundamental yet understudied quality metrics of cancer care. Little is known about cancer treatment delay among adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer patients. This study assessed cancer treatment delay, with a specific focus on facility transfer and diagnosis/treatment interval. Methods: Based on MultiCare Health System's (MHS's) institutional cancer registry data of AYA patients diagnosed during 2006-2015, this study analyzed patient demographics, insurance, clinical characteristics, and time of diagnosis and treatment initiation. Chi-squared tests, cumulative hazard estimates, and Cox proportional regression were used for univariable analysis. Multivariate regression models were used to test the association between care transfer and days of interval or prolonged delay, controlling for baseline parameters. Results: Of 840 analytic AYA cases identified, 457 (54.5%) were both diagnosed and treated within MHS. A total of 45.5% were either diagnosed or treated elsewhere. Mean and median intervals for treatment initiation were 27.03 (95% CI = 21.94-33.14) and 8.00 days (95% CI = 5.00-11.00), respectively, with significant differences between patients with and without facility transfer. Transfer was significantly correlated with longer length of diagnosis-to-treatment interval. Treatment delay, ≥1 week, was associated with transfer, female sex, older age, no surgery involvement, and more treatment modalities. Treatment delay, ≥4 weeks, was associated with transfer, female sex, no insurance, and no surgery involvement. Conclusion: In a community care setting, the diagnosis-to-treatment interval is significantly longer for transferred AYA cancer patients than for patients without a transfer. Future studies are warranted to explore the prognostic implications and the reasons for delays within specific cancer types.

Keywords: access to care; adolescent and young adult; cancer patient pathway; cancer treatment delay; community cancer care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult