Background Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK, and triaging patients ‘straight to test’ is recommended to improve patient experience and outcomes. While such pathways are likely to lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment, the data to support this assumption are limited.
Objectives To assess the impact of a fast track CT pathway to select patients for lung cancer clinics on clinic efficiency, diagnostic and treatment delays, and patient satisfaction.
Methods Retrospective comparative cohort study of patients referred to lung cancer clinics for investigation of suspicious imaging from January to December 2006 and June to December 2007.
Results The proportion of patients seen in clinic subsequently diagnosed with lung cancer increased from 124/399 (31%) to 86/168 (51%) (p<0.001). Time from referral to diagnosis reduced from 22 to 17 days (p<0.001). Time from referral to first discussion at the multidisciplinary team (MDT) meeting fell from 32 to 22 days (p<0.001). Time from referral to decision to treat reduced from 42 to 35 days (p<0.05). Time from referral to first treatment fell from 55 to 49 days (p=0.095). The proportion of patients who felt the diagnostic process took too long fell from 15/80 (19%) to 3/49 (6%) (p<0.05).
Conclusions The new pathway led to more effective use of clinic appointments, reduced diagnostic delay, and more rapid treatment decision times. Patient satisfaction with the speed of the diagnostic process increased. It is recommended that hospital trusts in England consider adopting similar ‘straight to test’ triaging to select patients for lung cancer clinics.
- Lung cancer
- waiting times
- patient satisfaction
- adult thoracic medicine
- respiratory tract tumours
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Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.