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Wait times up 78 percent at VA for colorectal cancer procedures
Date:8/26/2013

s to bring specialists for these other conditions onboard," McCarter says. McCarter points out that this question of the influence of time-to-treatment on outcomes is a larger question in the overall strategy of cancer care. "Although everybody assumes it's best to treat cancer as soon as possible, by the time they're detected, most tumors have been growing for years. It may be that a two-week delay before treatment makes no difference and that taking time to better plan care is a worthwhile trade," McCarter says.

The study also shows that patient, tumor and hospital factors influence time to treatment. Specifically, patients over age 55 were treated slightly more quickly than younger ones, and more advanced tumors were treated more quickly than less advanced ones both findings match the intuitive need to treat a more dangerous tumor efficiently. But then married (vs. unmarried) and white (vs. black) patients treated at low-volume (vs. high-volume) centers, and at the same hospital at which they were diagnosed also saw shorter wait times between diagnosis and treatment. Some of these factors may reflect other unmeasured influences such as a patient's desire for a second opinion before committing to surgery.

"VA's across the country realize that timeliness of care is an important issue. There's tremendous pressure to move people efficiently through the system. For example, wait times for an elective hernia repair may be up to 9 months because cancer patients take priority over elective or more benign situations and there just aren't enough resources to go around," McCarter says.

"The challenge for the future is to have our cake and eat it too to have quality along with the efficiency of shorter wait times," McCarter says.


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Contact: Garth Sundem
garth.sundem@ucdenver.edu
University of Colorado Denver
Source:Eurekalert

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