Pathways to care and diagnostic delay among cervical cancer patients attending a tertiary care hospital in Puducherry: a cross-sectional study

Roshina Sunny, Sitanshu Sekhar Kar, Dasari Papa, Sujiv Akkilagunta, Jeby Jose Olickal


Background: The high mortality among cervical cancer patients in India can be attributed to presentation at advanced stages. The varied and lengthy pathway taken up to diagnosis could be a major reason for advanced stage at presentation. Hence, we aimed to describe the care pathways and diagnostic delay among cervical cancer patients.

Methods: A hospital-based cross-sectional study was conducted among 101 cervical cancer patients attending a cancer clinic at a Regional Cancer Center. The histo-pathologically confirmed cases of cervical cancer, who registered in July to October 2018 were approached. Data were collected through personal interviews using a semi-structured questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the number of providers visited and diagnostic delay.

Results: The median (range) number of providers visited by the patients up to diagnosis was 2 (1-5). As the first point of care, 14% of participants approached sub-center or primary care facilities, 27% approached secondary care facilities, 49% participants approached tertiary care facilities and 11% came directly to a regional cancer center. Diagnosis was made only in 24% of participants at secondary and tertiary care levels. The median (IQR) number of days to get diagnosed was 66 (30-130) days and three fourth of the patients had a diagnostic delay.

Conclusions: The diagnostic delay was higher among patients who consulted multiple providers. Implementing a protocol to be followed at all three levels of health care delivery system may enhance the early diagnosis.



Diagnostic delay, Health care levels, Navigation pathways, Referral pathway

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