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Time to diagnosis and mortality in colorectal cancer: a cohort study in primary care.

Tørring ML, Frydenberg M, Hansen RP, Olesen F, Hamilton W, Vedsted P - Br. J. Cancer (2011)

Bottom Line: This association was examined by taking account of important confounding factors at the time of first presentation of symptoms in primary care.In patients presenting with vague symptoms, the association was reverse, although not statistically significant.This likely explains the counterintuitive findings; but it does not explain the increasing mortality with longer diagnostic intervals.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: The Research Unit for General Practice, Research Centre for Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care, School of Public Health, Aarhus University, Bartholin Allé 2, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark. mlt@alm.au.dk

ABSTRACT

Background: The relationship between the diagnostic interval and mortality from colorectal cancer (CRC) is unclear. This association was examined by taking account of important confounding factors at the time of first presentation of symptoms in primary care.

Methods: A total of 268 patients with CRC were included in a prospective, population-based study in a Danish county. The diagnostic interval was defined as the time from first presentation of symptoms until diagnosis. We analysed patients separately according to the general practitioner's interpretation of symptoms. Logistic regression was used to estimate 3-year mortality odds ratios as a function of the diagnostic interval using restricted cubic splines and adjusting for tumour site, comorbidity, age, and sex.

Results: In patients presenting with symptoms suggestive of cancer or any other serious illness, the risk of dying within 3 years decreased with diagnostic intervals up to 5 weeks and then increased (P=0.002). In patients presenting with vague symptoms, the association was reverse, although not statistically significant.

Conclusion: Detecting cancer in primary care is two sided: aimed at expediting ill patients while preventing healthy people from going to hospital. This likely explains the counterintuitive findings; but it does not explain the increasing mortality with longer diagnostic intervals. Thus, this study provides evidence for the hypothesis that the length of the diagnostic interval affects mortality in CRC patients.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Estimated survival according to the length of diagnostic nterval analysed for colorectal cancer patients presenting with (A) alarm symptoms of cancer or symptoms related to any serious illness and (B) vague or ill-defined symptoms not directly related to cancer or any other serious illness. The solid curves indicate 0–4 weeks; dashed curves indicate 5–11 weeks; and dotted curves indicate ⩾12 weeks from first presentation of symptoms in primary care to diagnosis (the diagnostic interval).
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fig2: Estimated survival according to the length of diagnostic nterval analysed for colorectal cancer patients presenting with (A) alarm symptoms of cancer or symptoms related to any serious illness and (B) vague or ill-defined symptoms not directly related to cancer or any other serious illness. The solid curves indicate 0–4 weeks; dashed curves indicate 5–11 weeks; and dotted curves indicate ⩾12 weeks from first presentation of symptoms in primary care to diagnosis (the diagnostic interval).

Mentions: Overall, 63 (23.5%) CRC patients died within 1 year, and 113 (42.2%) within 3 years of diagnosis (Figure 2).


Time to diagnosis and mortality in colorectal cancer: a cohort study in primary care.

Tørring ML, Frydenberg M, Hansen RP, Olesen F, Hamilton W, Vedsted P - Br. J. Cancer (2011)

Estimated survival according to the length of diagnostic nterval analysed for colorectal cancer patients presenting with (A) alarm symptoms of cancer or symptoms related to any serious illness and (B) vague or ill-defined symptoms not directly related to cancer or any other serious illness. The solid curves indicate 0–4 weeks; dashed curves indicate 5–11 weeks; and dotted curves indicate ⩾12 weeks from first presentation of symptoms in primary care to diagnosis (the diagnostic interval).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3065288&req=5

fig2: Estimated survival according to the length of diagnostic nterval analysed for colorectal cancer patients presenting with (A) alarm symptoms of cancer or symptoms related to any serious illness and (B) vague or ill-defined symptoms not directly related to cancer or any other serious illness. The solid curves indicate 0–4 weeks; dashed curves indicate 5–11 weeks; and dotted curves indicate ⩾12 weeks from first presentation of symptoms in primary care to diagnosis (the diagnostic interval).
Mentions: Overall, 63 (23.5%) CRC patients died within 1 year, and 113 (42.2%) within 3 years of diagnosis (Figure 2).

Bottom Line: This association was examined by taking account of important confounding factors at the time of first presentation of symptoms in primary care.In patients presenting with vague symptoms, the association was reverse, although not statistically significant.This likely explains the counterintuitive findings; but it does not explain the increasing mortality with longer diagnostic intervals.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: The Research Unit for General Practice, Research Centre for Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care, School of Public Health, Aarhus University, Bartholin Allé 2, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark. mlt@alm.au.dk

ABSTRACT

Background: The relationship between the diagnostic interval and mortality from colorectal cancer (CRC) is unclear. This association was examined by taking account of important confounding factors at the time of first presentation of symptoms in primary care.

Methods: A total of 268 patients with CRC were included in a prospective, population-based study in a Danish county. The diagnostic interval was defined as the time from first presentation of symptoms until diagnosis. We analysed patients separately according to the general practitioner's interpretation of symptoms. Logistic regression was used to estimate 3-year mortality odds ratios as a function of the diagnostic interval using restricted cubic splines and adjusting for tumour site, comorbidity, age, and sex.

Results: In patients presenting with symptoms suggestive of cancer or any other serious illness, the risk of dying within 3 years decreased with diagnostic intervals up to 5 weeks and then increased (P=0.002). In patients presenting with vague symptoms, the association was reverse, although not statistically significant.

Conclusion: Detecting cancer in primary care is two sided: aimed at expediting ill patients while preventing healthy people from going to hospital. This likely explains the counterintuitive findings; but it does not explain the increasing mortality with longer diagnostic intervals. Thus, this study provides evidence for the hypothesis that the length of the diagnostic interval affects mortality in CRC patients.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus