Gaps in Providers’ Knowledge Delays Gastric Cancer Diagnosis

Michelle R. Ju, Rodrigo E. Alterio, Tarek Sawas, Herbert J. Zeh, Sam C. Wang, Matthew R. Porembka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Previous studies have suggested that symptomatic cancer patients often experience delays in diagnosis (DD). However, DD of gastric cancer within the USA and etiology of those delays are not understood. Our study quantifies the proportion of gastric cancer patients experiencing DD and contributing barriers of care. Methods: We conducted a single institution retrospective review of 256 gastric cancer patients treated between 2015 and 2020. Patients with an interval from symptom onset to diagnosis of > 90 days were classified as having DD and categorized into one of the following barriers of care: access, provider knowledge/skills, and patient factors. Chi-square tests were used to analyze categorical group differences. Non-pooled t-tests and ANOVA were used to compare differences in group means. Results: A total of 59 patients (23%) had DD. Among patients with DD, the mean time from symptom onset to diagnosis was 229 days vs 30 days in the non-delayed group (p < 0.0001). The most common barrier of care was provider knowledge/skills gaps (44%), followed by access (36%) and patient-related factors (20%). Only 5% of patients who experienced delays reported abdominal pain alone, with the remaining 95% of patients reporting more than one symptom including obstruction, gastrointestinal bleeding, or weight loss. Conclusion: Patients often face lengthy delays in gastric cancer diagnosis which arise from healthcare system factors such as access barriers or gaps in provider knowledge/skills. Understanding concerning alarm symptoms and addressing identified barriers will expedite patient diagnosis and are prime opportunities to improve outcomes for gastric cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)750-756
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Barriers of care
  • Delays in diagnosis
  • Gastric cancer diagnosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Gastroenterology


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