Compliance with recommended cancer patient pathway timeframes and choice of treatment differed by cancer type and place of residence among cancer patients in Norway in 2015-2016

BMC Cancer. 2022 Feb 28;22(1):220. doi: 10.1186/s12885-022-09306-9.


Background: Cancer patient pathways (CPPs) were implemented in Norway to reduce unnecessary waiting times, regional variations, and to increase the predictability of cancer care for the patients. This study aimed to determine if 70% of cancer patients started treatment within the recommended time frames, and to identify potential delays.

Methods: Patients registered with a colorectal, lung, breast, or prostate cancer diagnosis at the Cancer Registry of Norway in 2015-2016 were linked with the Norwegian Patient Registry and Statistics Norway. Adjusting for sociodemographic variables, multivariable quantile (median) regressions were used to examine the association between place of residence and median time to start of examination, treatment decision, and start of treatment.

Results: The study included 20 668 patients. The proportions of patients who went through the CPP within the recommended time frames were highest among colon (84%) and breast (76%) cancer patients who underwent surgery and lung cancer patients who started systemic anticancer treatment (76%), and lowest for prostate cancer patients who underwent surgery (43%). The time from treatment decision to start of treatment was the main source of delay for all cancers. Travelling outside the resident health trust prolonged waiting time and was associated with a reduced odds of receiving surgery and radiotherapy for lung and rectal cancer patients, respectively.

Conclusions: Achievement of national recommendations of the CCP times differed by cancer type and treatment. Identified bottlenecks in the pathway should be targeted to decrease waiting times. Further, CPP guidelines should be re-examined to determine their ongoing relevance.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Cancer patient pathways; Colorectal cancer; Lung cancer; Prostate cancer; Waiting time.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Critical Pathways / standards
  • Critical Pathways / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Norway
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Registries
  • Time Factors
  • Time-to-Treatment / standards
  • Time-to-Treatment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Waiting Lists