Lung cancer care trajectory at a Canadian centre: an evaluation of how wait times affect clinical outcomes
Lung cancer continues to be one of the most common cancers in Canada, with approximately 28,400 new cases diagnosed each year. Although timely care can contribute substantially to quality of life for patients, it remains unclear whether it also improves patient outcomes. In this work, we used a set of quality indicators that aim to describe the quality of care in lung cancer patients. We assessed adherence with existing guidelines for timeliness of lung cancer care and concordance with existing standards of treatment, and we examined the association between timeliness of care and lung cancer survival.
Patients with lung cancer diagnosed between 2010 and 2015 were identified from the Pulmonary Division Lung Cancer Registry at our centre.
We demonstrated that the interdisciplinary pulmonary oncology service successfully treated most of its patients within the recommended wait times. However, there is still work to be done to decrease variation in wait time. Our results demonstrate a significant association between wait time and survival, supporting the need for clinicians to optimize the patient care trajectory.
It would be helpful for Canadian clinicians treating patients with lung cancer to have wait time guidelines for all treatment modalities, together with standard definitions for all time intervals. Any reductions in wait times should be balanced against the need for thorough investigation before initiating treatment. We believe that our unique model of care leads to an acceleration of diagnostic steps. Avoiding any delay associated with referral to a medical oncologist for treatment could be an acceptable strategy with respect to reducing wait time.