Lung cancer patients’ journey from first symptom to treatment: Results from a Greek registry

14 July 2019
Kourlaba G, Gkiozos I, Kokkotou E, Stefanou G, Papaspiliou A, Syrigos K. Cancer epidemiology vol. 60 (June 2019): 193-200.

Background: To map the patients’ journey from symptoms onset to treatment initiation for the most frequent histological types of lung cancer in Greece and describe the initial treatment that patients receive.

Methods: The primary data source was a Greek hospital-based registry. Demographic, anthropometric, lifestyle, and diagnostic-related characteristics as well as treatment-related data were extracted from the registry for patients diagnosed with Adenocarcinoma, Squamous and Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC). The time intervals from symptoms onset to diagnosis (StD), diagnosis to treatment initiation (DtT), symptoms onset to treatment initiation (StT) and surgery to post-surgery treatment (SRGtT) were estimated.

Results: 231, 120 and 122 patients were diagnosed with Adenocarcinoma, SCLC and Squamous, respectively. The percentage of patients diagnosed at stage III/IV ranged from 75% in Adenocarcinoma to 97.5% in SCLC (p < 0.001). The median (IQR) StD was 52 (28-104) days and no difference was detected across the three histological types (p = 0.301). Cough as first symptom was the only determinant of StD (p = 0.001). The median (IQR) DtT was 23 (13-36) days, with this time interval being shorter among patients with SCLC compared to patients with Adenocarcinoma and Squamous (p < 0.001). The median (IQR) StT was 81 (51-139) days. Almost one third of patients with Adenocarcinoma and Squamous were subjected first to surgery and the median (IQR) SRGtT was 42 (34-55) days.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that time interval from symptoms onset to treatment initiation in Greece is substantially prolonged, highlighting the need for strategies to expedite lung cancer diagnosis and access to evidence-based treatment.