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Revista Española de Enfermedades Digestivas

Print version ISSN 1130-0108


CERDAN-SANTACRUZ, Carlos et al. Colorectal cancer and its delayed diagnosis: have we improved in the past 25 years?. Rev. esp. enferm. dig. [online]. 2011, vol.103, n.9, pp.458-463. ISSN 1130-0108.

Objective: to determine the current delay in diagnosing colorectal cancer (CRC) and establish whether there has been any improvement in the past 25 years in the same healthcare setting using the same methods. Patients and method: 152 patients undergoing surgery at our unit were personally interviewed during their hospital stay to determine the delay incurred for the diagnosis and treatment of their CRC. SPSS software was used for univariate and multivariate analysis of the data obtained. Results: the study population was comprised of 152 patients of mean age 71 years (SD 10; range 36 to 90 years), 82 men and 70 women (53.9 and 46.1% respectively; p > 0.05). The diagnostic delay for CRC at our unit currently runs at 7.28 months despite the fact that in 58% of patients the disease produced obvious symptoms such as rectal bleeding. Although this delay in diagnosis is reduced over that observed 25 years ago, the difference is statistically not significant in terms of both doctor-attributed or patient-attributed delay (doctor-attributed delay was 3.28 months in 1985 versus 1.89 at present and patient-attributed delay was 3.18 months versus today's 2.75; p > 0.05). Unlike the situation 25 years ago, no link was detected between diagnostic delay and tumor stage. Paradoxically, stage D disease was diagnosed earlier (at 5.71 months) than stage A disease (at 11.16 months) (p < 0.05). Conclusion: the diagnostic delay for CRC at our centre is 7.28 months. This delay is excessive for a disease that produces evident symptoms in 90% of patients. Over the last 25 years little improvement has been noted in the overall delay in diagnosing CRC, although the delay attributed to the care provider has significantly improved. No relationship was detected between diagnostic delay and disease stage upon diagnosis. We feel the high prevalence of CRC, the failure of campaigns to increase awareness of early symptoms and no real improvement in its prognosis justify the introduction of large-scale colonoscopy screening for this disease.

Keywords : Colorectal cancer; Diagnostic delay; Prognosis; Screening.

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