, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 304-308

Delay in Treatment of Colorectal Cancer: Multifactorial Problem

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The stage of a colorectal carcinoma represents the most important prognostic factor regarding the probability of survival. The primary objective of this study was to document the management of patients with colorectal carcinoma after onset of symptoms. Factors influencing the delay in definitive therapy should thus be determined. Anthropometric, social, and operative data were obtained by standardized questionnaires from 40 patients with colonic cancer and 30 patients with rectal cancer. The influence of delayed treatment on outcome was analyzed. A significant correlation was found for the time between onset of first symptoms and definitive surgical therapy with tumor stage (colon cancer: r = 0.52, p < 0.05; colorectal cancer: r = 0.62, p < 0.05). The time delay in rectal carcinoma patients averaged 224 days and in patients with colonic carcinoma 149 days. Social influences such as profession, type of education, marital status, and quality of health insurance had a significant influence on treatment delay, as did the clinical experience of the physician first contacted. The leading symptom in patients with rectal cancer was peranal hemorrhage, and in patients with colonic cancer it was abdominal pain. The main causes of iatrogenic delay were insufficient clinical investigation and a lack of awareness when typical first symptoms were present. Delayed treatment of colorectal cancer seems to be a multifactorial problem. Causes for such delay are found not only in the patients and their social environments but also in the type and quality of their medical care systems. Intensified education and earlier prevention are the major aims for patients and their physicians.

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