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Association between time to diagnosis, time to treatment, and ovarian cancer survival in the United States


Objective Evaluate the association between time to diagnosis and treatment of advanced ovarian cancer with overall and ovarian cancer specific mortality using a retrospective cross sectional study of a population based cancer registry database.

Methods The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results–Medicare database was searched from 1992 to 2015 for women aged ≥66 years with epithelial ovarian cancer and abdominal/pelvic pain, bloating, difficulty eating, or urinary symptoms within 1 year of cancer diagnosis. Time from presentation to diagnosis and treatment were evaluated as outcomes and covariables. Cox regression models and adjusted Kaplan–Meier curves evaluated 5 year overall and cancer-specific survival.

Results Among 13 872 women, better survival was associated with longer time from presentation to diagnosis (overall survival hazard ratio (HR) 0.95, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.94 to 0.95; cancer specific survival HR 0.95, 95% CI 0.94 to 0.96) and diagnosis to treatment (overall survival HR 0.94, 95% CI 0.92 to 0.96; cancer specific survival HR 0.93, 95% CI 0.91 to 0.96). There was longer time from presentation to diagnosis in Hispanic women (relative risk (RR) 1.21, 95% CI 1.12 to 1.32) and from diagnosis to treatment in non-Hispanic black women (RR 1.36, 95% CI 1.21 to 1.54), with lower likelihood of survival at 5 years after adjustment for time to diagnosis and treatment among non-Hispanic black women (HR 1.15, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.26) compared with non-Hispanic white women. Gynecologic oncology visit was associated with improved overall (p<0.001) and cancer specific (p<0.001) survival despite a longer time from presentation to treatment (p<0.001).

Conclusion Longer time to diagnosis and treatment were associated with improved survival, suggesting that tumor specific features are more important prognostic factors than the time interval of workup and treatment. Significant sociodemographic disparities indicate social determinants of health influencing workup and care. Gynecologic oncologist visits were associated with improved survival, highlighting the importance of appropriate referral for suspected ovarian cancer.

  • ovarian cancer

Data availability statement

Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available. This study used the linked Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database. In accordance with the policy of NCI, the authors are not able to provide SEER–Medicare data to any other individual or investigator. Investigators interested in the data should contact NCI to discuss arrangements for ordering an extra copy of the dataset.

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