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Delay in Lung Cancer Diagnosis Doesn`t Cut Survival

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Wednesday October 26, 2005 (2112 PST)

ISLAMABAD, October 27 (Online): A delay in diagnosing lung cancer after a patient first presents with symptoms does not affect survival, Spanish investigators report.

Dr. Salvador Pita-Fernandez and colleagues, from Complexo Hospitalario Universitario Juan Canelejo in Coruna, theorized that delayed diagnosis and treatment would allow the tumor to progress and thus shorten survival.

One study has shown that a delay between the first symptoms of lung cancer and actual diagnosis increases tumor invasion, but other investigators have detected no such relationship.

In the new study, the researchers followed 378 patients diagnosed with lung cancer at their hospital. The interval from first symptoms to diagnosis ranged from 3 days to 22 months.

After accounting for age and gender, the delay in diagnosis had no bearing on how advanced the tumor was, or on survival, according to a report in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology.

Similar results were obtained when the authors restricted their analysis to patients with small-cell lung cancer, a particularly aggressive form of the disease.

Pita-Fernandez`s team attributes the findings to variability in the biologic behavior of the tumor, the patient`s behavior, and the clinical course of the disease.

They reason that, "without any clear evidence that secondary prevention activities are effective in reducing mortality in lung cancer patients, primary prevention measures must be the key elements in reducing its incidence."


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