Ugeskr Læger 2010;172(4):279-284
Summary Accelerated diagnosis and treatment initiation for head and neck cancer patients Ugeskr Læger 2010;172(4):279-284 Introduction: Acceleration of diagnosis and initiation of treatment for head and neck cancer requires optimal organisation and multidisciplinary collaboration. A project at the Head and Neck Oncology Centre, Aarhus University Hospital aimed at accelerating patient flow. Materials and methods: The initiatives were implemented throughout 2007. Focus was on optimizing logistics for all patients referred to the centre with suspected head and neck cancer. Initiatives included a full-time coordinator, pre-booked slots for clinical work-up and weekly tumour boards. Key dates were registered and relevant intervals were quantitatively evaluated and compared to a reference group from 2006. Results: We registered 446 patients. Waiting times for first clinical examination at the ENT department were reduced from medially eight to two days through 2007 (p < 0.0001). Time from first clinical examination to referral for treatment was reduced from medially 21 to nine days (p < 0.0001). Time from referral to treatment to initiation of treatment was reduced from medially 26 to 15 days (p < 0,001). The net result of these reductions was a reduced overall median time (from primary referral to initiation of treatment) from medially 57 days by end of 2006 to medially 29 days by end of 2007 (p < 0,0001). Conclusion: Logistic changes and especially introduction of a full-time coordinator, a multidisciplinary tumour board and a generally higher priority for head and neck cancer patients resulted in a significant acceleration regarding diagnosis and start of treatment from 2006 to 2007.