The Effect of Pandemic on Lung Cancer Waiting Time - Tertiary Center Experience

Document Type : Research Articles


Department of Cardio, Thoracic Surgery, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, Scotland.


Background: Early diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer are crucial to improve the survival and the outcomes in patients who are diagnosed with lung cancer. Many factors can affect the waiting time for lung cancer treatment, however, the corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was one of the major factors that universally slowed down clinical activities in the last three years. We are aiming with this study to demonstrate how this pandemic and other factors affected the lung cancer waiting times for diagnosis and treatment. Methods: This is a retrospective study including 670 patients who were diagnosed with lung cancer within the NHS Lothian region of Edinburgh - Scotland between March 2019 and November 2023. One hundred patients underwent curative lung resection. Patients were categorised into three groups for sub analysis. The first group included patients diagnosed before the COVID-19 pandemic, the second group included patients diagnosed during the pandemic in 2020, and the third group represents those diagnosed after the mass vaccination program was established and until November 2023. Results: The average waiting time between the referral from the GP to the date of surgery in the three groups was 88.5 days, 81 days, and 83.5 days, respectively. On the other hand, the waiting times elapsing between the first surgical clinic appointment and the date of the surgery itself were 17.6 days, 18.6 days, and 21.5 days, respectively. Conclusion: Unexpectedly waiting times elapsing between the referral to surgery and the date of surgery amongst lung cancer patients showed improvement during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is likely due to prioritizing cancer patients. Nevertheless, actions should be considered to decrease the waiting times in general. 


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