Hong Kong Med J 1998;4:132-6 | Number 2, June 1998
Nasopharyngeal carcinoma--time lapse before diagnosis and treatment
AWM Lee, WM Ko, W Foo, P Choi, Y Tung, J Sham, B Cheng, G Au, WH Lau, D Choy, SK O, WM Sze, KC Tse, CK Law, P Teo, TK Yau, WK Kwan
Department of Clinical Oncology, Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital, Chai Wan, Hong Kong
This is a descriptive study of 168 patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma who were referred to public oncology departments for primary treatment between July and September 1996. The mean duration from the onset of the symptoms to histological diagnosis was 5.0 months; the duration ranged from 6.1 months (for patients presenting with nasal symptoms) to 1.8 months (for those with cranial nerve dysfunction). The mean period between the onset of symptoms and the seeking of medical advice was 2.9months. For 54% of the patients, there was a further delay of up to 2.4 months between the initial medical consultation and referral to the appropriate specialist. The majority (84%) of patients attended public institutions for histological confirmation. The mean total time taken from the onset of symptoms to the commencement of radiotherapy was 6.5 months (range, 1.3-74.0 months)--45% of the delay was attributed to the patient, 20% to initial consultations, 14% to diagnostic arrangement, and 21% to preparation for radiotherapy. Concerted efforts are needed to minimise further the time between the onset of symptoms and treatment. A substantial reduction in this delay can be achieved if both public and primary care doctors were made more aware of the significance of relevant symptoms.
Key words: Nasopharyngeal neoplasms; Prognosis; Time factors
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