Delays in diagnosis and referral and treatment for hematologic malignancies

Ayesha Chawdhary, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The purpose of this thesis project was to identify factors that may contribute to a delay in the diagnosis, referral or treatment of the hematologic malignancies. This thesis is a secondary data analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data collected during a pilot study for a parent CDC study to determine factors related to time to diagnosis, referral, and treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), multiple myeloma (MM), and myelodisplastic syndrome (MDS). To identify patterns for referral, as well as explore referral, treatment, and follow-up patterns, MDACC performed a pathways analysis, and conducted semi-structured interviews with hematologic cancer patients to help identify factors related to delays. Interviews were also conducted with primary care physicians and community hematologists/oncologists to help identify factors associated with optimal and sub-optimal patterns of diagnosis and referral. The results of these analyses suggest a set of factors that may be related to a fairly smooth and rapid trajectory to treatment, and factors that may be related to a slower, more disrupted trajectory. Factors that may be especially important to facilitating rapid treatment include the presence of cues to seek diagnosis in the patient's environment and the patient recognizing and acting upon these cues to seek immediate medical attention. Furthermore, providers who perform behaviors including recognizing cues as indicators of hematologic malignancies and conducting appropriate diagnostic testing effectively and efficiently indicate that these behaviors may also contribute to shorter times to diagnosis. In regards to referrals, direct and effective communication between providers and patients, as well between providers themselves helped facilitate speedier referrals. A patient's insurance status as well as the presence or absence of social support in his environment served as factors that may increase or decrease time to diagnosis, referral, and treatment for a hematologic malignancy. Further research is needed to define delay to diagnosis, referral and treatment in order to improve early diagnosis, referral, and treatment of hematologic malignancies.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Chawdhary, Ayesha, "Delays in diagnosis and referral and treatment for hematologic malignancies" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1467396.