What Affects Time to Diagnosis in Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults With Solid Tumors?

Wallace Stephens

Time to diagnosis among children, adolescents, and young adults (AYAs) varies by cancer type and may be affected by clinical and sociodemographic factors, according to an abstract presented at the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, held May 31 to June 4, 2019, in Chicago, Illinois.

Researchers used claims data for commercially insured enrollees in a large United States health plan from OptumLabs Data Warehouse. They identified pediatric patients 14 years and younger, as well as AYAs 15 to 39 years old diagnosed with soft tissue sarcomas (STS), bone tumors (BT), and germ cell tumors (GCT) during 2001 to 2017 who were continuously enrolled for 6 months prior to being diagnosed.

Time to diagnosis was calculated as the number of days between a patient’s first medical encounter associated with a potential cancer symptom and their diagnosis date. Researchers compared median times from first symptom to diagnosis using the Wilcoxon Rank Sum test. They used multivariable logistic regression to identify sociodemographic and clinical factors associated with intervals longer than 3 months from appearance of symptoms to diagnosis.

Of 11,395 total patients, 86% presented to medical care with symptoms before they were diagnosed. A total of 2228 patients had STS, 1565 patients had BT, and 5904 had GCT. The most common symptoms reported were pain and swelling.

Researchers found that: Researchers determined there was a significant difference in median days to diagnosis by age: There was not a significant difference in median days to diagnosis by age for STS.

Researchers also found that being from a household with a college degree or higher level of education, as well as seeing a specialist besides an oncologist when symptoms first appeared, was associated with a longer delay in diagnosis. Older age and being male were associated with a shorter delays in diagnosis.

“In a commercially insured population, time to diagnosis varies by cancer type and is impacted by clinical and sociodemographic factors,” researchers wrote. “Shorter time to diagnosis may represent delays in presenting to medical care or more acute presentations of symptoms, therefore patient-reported symptoms and barriers to care data should be collected to better define strategies to reduce delays in diagnosis."

Alvarez EM, Winestone L, McPheeters J, et al. Factors impacting time to diagnosis in pediatric, adolescent and young adult (AYA) patients with solid tumors. Presented at: American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting; May 31-June 4, 2019; Chicago, Illinois. Abstract e21515.
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