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Nursing issues
Delay in cancer treatment is associated with increased mortality
  1. Pradeep Yarra1,
  2. Kishore Karri2
  1. 1 Internal Medicine, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA
  2. 2 Department of Medicine, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Pradeep Yarra, Internal Medicine, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506, USA; pya227{at}

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Commentary on: Hanna TP, King WD, Thibodeau S, et al. Mortality due to cancer treatment delay: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2020;371:m4087. doi:10.1136/bmj.m4087

Implications for practice and research

  • Cancer treatment practice should focus on minimising delays in access to present existing treatments and not on newer options.

  • Future research should focus on developing policies that minimise system level delays to improve survival outcomes.


Cancer treatment is a multimodality approach, consisting of surgery, systematic treatment and radiotherapy. Delay in cancer treatments could be multifactorial based on system factors and patient factors and mostly results in poor patient outcomes. Treatment delay is associated with increased mortality,1 but understanding the impact of delay on mortality is essential. Hanna et al conducted a systemic review and meta-analysis to quantify the linear association of cancer treatment delay and mortality for seven major cancer …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.