In October, our amazing team in Belo Horizonte led by Dr. Carolina Martins Vieira and Dr. Angélica Nogueira Rodrigues, had the opportunity to present their data on access to radiotherapy in Brazil at the Brazilian Congress of Oncology. Recently, Brazil has been struggling with a lack of radiation machines leading to a waiting line for the treatment. The purpose of this data analysis was to evaluate the time it takes for patients to receive radiotherapy, a treatment that many cancer patients need with 40% of them being for curative purposes.
The team’s retrospective analysis of 108 patients showed that median time from referral to radiotherapy consultation, meaning an appointment with a radiation oncologist was 51 days with the time ranging between 0 and 253 days. Moreover, the median time between first radiotherapist evaluation and the beginning of radiotherapy was 14 days, with a range of 0 to 64 days. Overall, the most concerning number comes from the median time from biopsy result to the beginning of radiotherapy, which was 106 days, with a huge range of 8 to 468 days.
This long delay violates Brazil’s Law of 60 Days, which states that oncology treatment must being within 60 days of definitive diagnosis. Our patient navigation program in Belo Horizonte, focused on patients in need of radiotherapy, aims to decrease this time frame, allowing patients to more easily and swiftly move through the healthcare system in order to receive timely care and improve prognosis.