Delay in Cancer Treatment Is Found to Raise Recurrence
Source: New York Times
The New York Times is running an article on a recently-released study on cancer recurrence rates conducted by the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York that showed delays in starting treatment led to higher rates of recurrence when compared to those who began therapy right away. The researchers analyzed the medical records of more than 8000 patients who were diagnosed with Stage I Breast Cancer and reviewed the success and the recurrence rates among this study population. They found that almost 1 in 5 of the patients 65 and older either delayed the start of radiation treatment or did not complete the full course of therapy and they were able to correlate these findings with increased likelihood of recurrence.
The study, which was published in the journal Cancer, showed that patients who delayed the start of radiation up to eight weeks demonstrated a 1.4 times greater likelihood of recurrence than those who began therapy as soon as it was recommended. When the researchers looked at those who waited 12 weeks to begin therapy, they found an even greater likelihood of recurrence: 4 times greater than those who began therapy as soon as recommended.
The researchers also analyzed the patient population for those who completed a full radiation course, which is usually five to seven weeks, and those who only completed a partial radiation course, which they defined as three weeks or less. Among this latter population, the researchers showed that the risk of “succumbing to cancer” was 32 percent higher than in those who completed the full course.
Whether these results are also representative for mesothelioma or lung cancer patients is an open question, but the study does show the importance of properly following an oncologist’s recommended treatment plan as closely as possible.