Typical time to treatment of patients with lung cancer in a multisite, US-based study

Regina M. Vidaver, Marianna B. Shershneva, Scott J. Hetzel, Timothy R. Holden, Toby C. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Introduction The importance of high-quality, timely lung cancer care and the need to have indicators to measure timeliness are increasingly discussed in the United States. This study explored when and why delays occur in lung cancer care and compared timeliness between two states with divergent disease incidence. Methods Patients with small-cell or non-small-cell lung cancer were recruited through cancer centers, outpatient clinics, and community approaches, and interviewed over the phone. Statistical analysis of patient-reported dates included descriptive statistics and comparing time intervals between states and across the sites with Mann-Whitney U tests. Additionally, data from patients with longer timelines were qualitatively analyzed to identify possible reasons for delays. Results Onthe basis of the dates reported by 275 patients, the median time from first presentation to a clinician to treatment was 52 days; 29% of patients experienced a wait of 90 days or more. Median times for key intervals were 36.5 days from abnormal radiograph to treatment, 9.5 days from initial presentation to specialist referral, 15 days from patient informed of diagnosis to first therapy, and 16 days from referral to treatment to first therapy. More than one quarter of patients perceived delays in care. No significant differences in length of time intervals were identified between states. Monitoring of small nodules, missed diagnosis, and other reasons for longer timelines were documented. Conclusion Results defined typical time to treatment of patients with lung cancer across a variety of health systems and should facilitate establishing metrics for determining timeliness of lung cancer care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e643-e651
JournalJournal of Oncology Practice
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2016


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