After reviewing nearly 3.7 million patient records, Cleveland Clinic researchers have shown that newly diagnosed cancer patients are having to wait longer to begin treatment, a delay that is associated with a substantially increased risk of death. This research was presented today at the ASCO Annual meeting and is abstract 6557 (http://abstracts.asco.org/199/AbstView_199_185804.html). The researchers used prospective data from the National Cancer Database and examined the number of days between diagnosis and the first treatment for those newly diagnosed with early-stage solid-tumor cancers from 2004 to 2013. The study population of 3,672,561 patients included breast, prostate, colorectal, non-small cell lung, renal, and pancreas cancers. The median time between diagnosis and treatment - referred to as "time to treatment initiation," or TTI - has increased significantly in recent years, from 21 days in 2004 to 29 days in 2013. Delays were more likely if patients changed treatment facilities or if they sought care at academic centers. Longer delays between diagnosis and initial treatment were associated with worsened overall survival for stages I and II breast, lung, renal, and pancreas cancers, and stage II colorectal cancers, with increased risk of mortality of 1.2 percent to 3.2 percent per week of delay, adjusting for comorbidities and other variables.
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