Clin Oncol | Volume 8, Issue 1 | Research Article | Open Access

An Interdisciplinary Fast-Track Diagnostic Program for Head and Neck Cancer: Reducing Time to Treatment Initiation

Riemenschnitter C1*, Schulze J2, Bächinger D1, Gander T3, Balermpas P4 and Däppen MAB1

1Department of Otorhinolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland
2Department of Consultation-Liaison-Psychiatry and Psychosomatic Medicine, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland
3Department of Cranio-Maxillo-Facial and Oral Surgery, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland
4Department of Radiation Oncology, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland

*Correspondance to: Cosima E Riemenschnitter 

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Background: A timely initiation of therapy crucially impacts the prognosis of head and neck tumor patients. Previous research has shown that shortening the Time-to-Treatment Initiation (TTI) significantly improves survival and functional outcomes. In February 2020, a novel Interdisciplinary Fast-Track Diagnostic Program (IFTDP) for head and neck cancer was implemented at our
institution. The aim was to optimize the diagnostic work up and staging process within three subsequent days. In this study, we aimed to assess the impact of the IFTDP on the TTI.
Methods: We included patients with primary head and neck tumors undergoing the IFTDP from January 2019 to September 2020. A historical patient cohort originating from the time prior to the introduction of the IFTDP served as control group.
Results: A total of 289 patients treated in curative intent either surgically or radio therapeutically were included in the study. Compared to the historical controls, overall TTI was reduced by 25% from 28 to 21 days (p=0.002).
Conclusion: An IFTDP can significantly reduce TTI, which presumably affects survival and functional outcomes. Moreover, increasing the efficiency of the diagnostic workup may avoid redundancies and could contribute to an early detection of potential risk factors.


Riemenschnitter C, Schulze J, Bächinger D, Gander T, Balermpas P, Däppen MAB. An Interdisciplinary Fast-Track Diagnostic Program for Head and Neck Cancer: Reducing Time to Treatment Initiation. Clin Oncol. 2023;8:1992..

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