SAN DIEGO (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Women diagnosed with ovarian cancer waited about 38 days, on average, from the initial concerning imaging test to initiation of treatment, according to a study analyzing health care transit times at a single community hospital.

“Ovarian cancer is such a hard disease to diagnose early,” Christopher J. LaFargue, MD, lead study author, said in an interview at the annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology. “Once it’s diagnosed, it’s imperative that women get in to see the gynecologic oncologist [and] make sure their treatment care isn’t lagged for any reason.”

In an effort to characterize the length of time between critical points in the care of women with ovarian cancer and determine the impact of patient demographics, Dr. LaFargue and his associates retrospectively evaluated the medical records of 45 women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer at Long Beach (Calif.) Memorial Medical Center between January 2012 and May 2015.

They examined patient demographics, including preoperative CA-125. Time points of interest were first concerning imaging test, first gynecologic oncology appointment, initiation of treatment, and adjuvant therapy. They used univariate analyses to determine associations between specific patient demographics and the time intervals of interest.

Dr. LaFargue, a resident in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Irvine, reported that the mean age of patients was 61 years, and the mean driving distance to the hospital from the patients’ home was 11 miles. More than half of the patients were white (58%) and 62% of patients were diagnosed with stage III or IV disease. Preoperative CA-125 exceeded 200 U/mL in 62% of patients. Medicare enrollees with supplemental insurance made up less than half of the group (44%).

The researchers found that the average time from initial concerning imaging to start of treatment was about 38 days. The average time from initial imaging to the first office visit with a gynecologic oncologist was about 18 days. The time from that appointment to initial treatment was 19 days, on average. The time from the start of neoadjuvant chemotherapy to interval cytoreductive surgery was 103 days, on average.

The only factor that significantly impacted transit time was a patient’s CA-125 level. Those who had a level of 200 U/mL or greater were more likely to receive surgery or treatment quicker, compared with those who had a CA-125 level less than 200 U/mL. No other statistically significant associations between patient demographics and length of time intervals were observed.

“It would have been nice to have seen a correlation with insurance status,” Dr. LaFargue said. “That’s kind of what we were hoping for, because then you can make an argument with insurance payers that patients who have Medicare aren’t getting treated as quickly as those who have a PPO, for example.”

He acknowledged certain limitations of the study, including its small sample size, lack of outcomes data, and the fact that it was conducted in a community hospital setting.

Dr. LaFargue reported having no financial disclosures.


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