Differences in time to treatment for colorectal cancer across the United Kingdom

  • Weller D & al.
  • BMJ Open
  • 27 Nov 2018

  • from Dawn O'Shea
  • UK Medical News
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Colorectal cancer patients in Wales waiting 3 weeks longer to start treatment than patients in the rest of the United Kingdom, the  International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership Module 4  (ICBP M4) reports.

ICBP M4 analysed data from patients in 10 jurisdictions across the United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Australia, who were diagnosed between 2013 and 2015.

Overall, Wales had the longest time interval from symptom onset until initiation of treatment, at 168 days. This compared to 145 days in England, 138 days in Northern Ireland and 120 days in Scotland. Patients in Wales waiting more than 3 months longer to start treatment than patients in the best performing country, Denmark (77 days).

Patients in Wales took the longest time to contact their doctor once they had noticed a health concern or symptom (49 days). Patients in Wales and Northern Ireland waited longer to receive their diagnosis (60 and 64 days, respectively) than patients in Scotland (38 days) and England (48 days).

Once cancer had been diagnosed, patients in Wales waited for the longest (39 days) before starting chemotherapy, radiotherapy or having surgery - more than double the length of time for patients in Denmark and Victoria, Australia (14 days).

Commenting on the findings, Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK's director of early diagnosis, said: "This work shows that the UK has a major task ahead to improve how promptly bowel cancer patients receive treatment.”

"There is much we can learn from other countries, from addressing barriers to encourage people to visit the GP if they notice unusual changes to ensuring they have the swiftest possible path from referral to diagnosis and treatment.