Background: There are various patient and professional factors responsible for the delay in start of treatment(SOT) for head and neck cancers (HNC). Materials and
Methods: This retrospective study was conducted ondata for HNC patients registered at the hospital cancer registry in North-East India. All cases diagnosed duringthe period of January 2010 to December 2012 were considered for the present analysis. Educational levels of allpatients were clustered into 3 groups; illiterates (unable to read or write), qualified (school or high school leveleducation), and highly qualified (college and above).
Results: In the present analysis 1066 (34.6%) patients wereilliterates, 1,869 (60.6%) patients were literates and 145 (4.7%) of all patients with HNC were highly qualified.The stage at diagnosis were stage I, seen in 62 (34.6%), stage II in 393 (12.8%), stage III in 1,371 (44.5%) andstage IV in 1,254 (40.7%) . The median time (MT) to the SOT from date of attending cancer hospital (DOACH)was, in illiterate group MT was 18 days, whereas in the qualified group of patients it was 15 days and in the highlyqualified group was 10 days. Analysis of variance showed there was a significant difference on the mean time forthe delay in SOT from DOACH for different educational levels (F=9.923, p=0.000).
Conclusions: Educationallevel is a patient related factor in the delays for the SOT in HNCs in our population.