Patient Delay, Diagnosis Delay and Treatment Delay for Breast Cancer: Comparison of the Pattern between Patients in Public and Private Health Sectors

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Iraj Harirchi
Mojgan Karbakhsh
Fatemeh Hadi
Seyyedeh Sedigheh Madani
Fereydoun Sirati
Shadi Kolahdoozan


Breast cancer, patient delay, diagnosis delay, treatment delay, social determinants of health


Background: The purpose of this study was to compare patient delay, diagnosis delay and treatment delay in breast cancer patients of selected public and private health centers in Tehran, Iran.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, female patients with newly diagnosed breast cancer in a public medical complex and a private breast clinic within one year were included. Patient delay was considered positive, if the interval between the detection of the first symptom by the patient and the first visit to a health care provider took longer than one month. Delay in diagnosis was defined as the period of more than one week between the first medical visit for the symptoms and the diagnosis of breast cancer. Following the confirmed diagnosis of breast malignancy, if the medical treatment was initiated later than one week, treatment delay had occurred. The potential reasons for patient, diagnosis and treatment delay according to the patients’ reports were also recorded.

Results: Overall, 385 patients were included of whom 52.7% were recruited from the public hospitals and 47.3% from a private clinic. The prevalence of patient delay, diagnosis delay and treatment delay were 31.7%, 17.9% and 28.3%, respectively. Patient delay was significantly more common among patients with lower socio-economic status and those recruited from the public hospitals. All the patients with diagnosis delay were in the group recruited from the public hospitals.

Conclusions: Gaps between women of different socio-economic levels of the society need to be addressed in order to decrease patient, diagnosis and treatment delay.

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