Patients diagnosed with sarcoma are hypothesized to experience a prolonged route to a cancer diagnosis. This route, the total interval, can be divided into a patient interval (the time from the appearance of symptoms to physician consultation) and diagnostic interval (time from the first consultation to diagnosis). In the current study, the authors investigated these intervals among survivors of sarcoma and identified factors associated with prolonged intervals.
A cross‐sectional study was conducted among adult patients with sarcoma 2 to 10 years after diagnosis. Patients completed a questionnaire regarding their total interval, which was linked to clinical data from the Netherlands Cancer Registry. Descriptive statistics were used to describe intervals. Based on Dutch clinical guidelines, a diagnostic interval ≥1 month was considered to be prolonged and an interval ≥3 months was considered as very long. Multivariable regression analyses investigated associations between patient and tumor characteristics and interval length.
A total of 1099 participants were included (response rate, 58%); approximately 60% reported a patient interval ≥1 month and 36% reported a patient interval ≥3 months. Risk factors for a very long patient interval were sarcoma of the skin or pelvis, liposarcoma, or rhabdomyosarcoma. Stage III disease was associated with a shorter patient interval. The diagnostic interval length was ≥1 month in 55% of patients and ≥3 months in 28% of patients. Risk factors for a very long diagnostic interval were female sex, age <70 years, or having a synovial sarcoma or chordoma.
The patient and diagnostic interval lengths were prolonged in a substantial percentage of this sarcoma survivorship population. Factors found to be associated with the length of the patient interval or the diagnostic interval differed. Creating awareness among (especially young) patients to consult a physician and awareness among physicians to consider a sarcoma diagnosis will contribute to optimization of the total interval.