Introduction Understanding the volume of incoming referrals to a colorectal cancer (CRC) service is essential for adequate service delivery. We aimed to determine the number of two-week wait (2WW) referrals and resulting cancer diagnoses at our centre, and to characterise trends over time.
Method A retrospective review of all referrals from primary care with suspected malignancy to our institution over a five-year period (2009–2013) was performed. Annual numbers of colorectal cancer diagnoses were obtained from the trust database. Linear regression models were used to determine statistical significance of observed trends.
Results The annual number of 2WW referrals for all cancers increased steadily from 14,031 to 22,912 during the study period (p = 0.02). Referrals for suspected CRC also increased from 1,706 to 3,278 (p = 0.03). The proportion of patients seen within 7 days of referral decreased from 23% in 2009 to 9% in 2013 (p < 0.01), while the proportion seen within 14 days decreased from 99.8% to 92.3% (p = 0.09). The proportion of 2WW referrals diagnosed with CRC decreased from 7.9% in 2009 to 4.7% in 2013 (p = 0.02).
Conclusion The number of referrals for suspected cancer from primary care to our institution is steadily increasing, which has significant implications for service provision. The rate of cancer diagnoses from these referrals is decreasing. Further investigation is required to determine the reasons underlying these trends.
Disclosure of interest None Declared.
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