Coordination of radiologic and clinical care reduces the wait time to breast cancer diagnosis

E.C. McKevitt, C.K. Dingee, R. Warburton, J.S. Pao, C.J. Brown, C. Wilson, U. Kuusk



In 2009, a Rapid Access Breast Clinic (rabc) was opened at our urban hospital. Compared with the traditional system (ts), the navigated care through the clinic was associated with a significantly shorter time to surgical consultation. Since 2009, many radiology facilities have introduced facilitated-care pathways for patients with breast pathology. Our objective was to determine if that change in diagnostic imaging pathways had eliminated the advantage in time to care previously shown for the rabc.


All patients seen in the rabc and the office-based ts in November–December 2012 were included in the analysis. A retrospective chart review tabulated demographic, surgeon, pathology, and radiologic data, including time intervals to care for all patients. The results were compared with data from 2009.


In 2012, time from presentation to surgical consultation was less for the rabc group than for the ts group (36 days vs. 73 days, p < 0.001) for both malignant (31 days vs. 55 days, p = 0.008) and benign diagnoses (43 days vs. 79 days, p < 0.001). Comparing the 2012 results with results from 2009, a decline in mean wait time was observed for the ts group (86 days vs. 73 days, p = 0.02). Compared with patients having investigations in the ts, rabc patients with cancer were more likely to undergo surgery within 60 days of presentation (33% vs. 15%, p = 0.04).


The coordination of radiology and clinical care reduces wait times for diagnosis and surgery in breast cancer. To achieve recommended targets, we recommend implementation of more systematic coordination of care for a breast cancer diagnosis and of navigation to surgeons for patients needing surgical care.


Breast cancer; wait times; diagnosis; surgery; delivery of care

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)