The journey of lung cancer patients from symptoms to diagnosis in Greece: A mixed methods approach

01 Apr 2024
Introduction: Early detection of lung cancer is crucial for successful treatment. However, both patients and physicians often encounter challenges that significantly delay the diagnostic process. To address these difficulties, a mixed-methods study was conducted to follow the patients’ journey during the diagnostic process, focusing on the largest island in Greece. The objectives of the study were to track the patients’ journey from symptom onset to diagnosis and explore their perspective of the journey. Methods: A convergent mixed-methods study was conducted with 94 patients with lung cancer. The patients completed a self-report questionnaire and were interviewed about their symptoms and experiences within the healthcare system leading up to their diagnosis. Results: The findings revealed various problems and delays in the diagnostic process. Both quantitative and qualitative data indicated that patients often failed to recognize their symptoms and sought medical advice too late, either overlooking their symptoms or attributing them to more common causes. Furthermore, most patients received their diagnosis 1-3 months after their initial visit to a physician for their symptoms. Qualitative data analysis identified three main categories of problems contributing to delayed diagnosis: physician missteps, administrative issues, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Discussion: This study provides a comprehensive overview of the journey of patients with lung cancer from symptom onset to diagnosis within the healthcare system. The findings highlight areas that can be improved to reduce the time to diagnosis. Healthcare professionals and managers could utilize this knowledge to reassess and optimize the functioning of each level of healthcare. Additionally, physicians could enhance patient education and cooperation among different specialties, enabling faster diagnosis of lung cancer and ultimately improving patient quality of life and disease outcomes.

Resource information

Respiratory conditions
  • Cancer
Respiratory topics
  • Diagnosis
Type of resource
Athens 2024
Ioanna Tsiligianni1, Antonios Christodoulakis1,2, Alexia Monastirioti3, Dimitrios Mavroudis3, Sofia Agelaki3 1Department of Social Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece, 2Department of Nursing, School of Health Sciences, Hellenic Mediterranean University, Heraklion, Greece, 3Department of Medical Oncology, School of Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece