n South African Medical Journal - Waiting times for prostate cancer diagnosis in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa : research

Volume 105, Issue 6
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



There is currently no evidence in the South African (SA) literature to suggest how long patients with clinically suspected prostate cancer (an elevated prostate-specific antigen level or abnormal findings on digital rectal examination) wait to have a prostate biopsy.

To improve the overall efficiency of the prostate biopsy service offered at St Aidan's Regional Hospital, Durban, SA, by quantifying the burden of disease and waiting times and to identify potential delays in management outcomes, thereby helping to alleviate patient anxiety during the stressful period of investigation.
We did a retrospective folder review of patients who underwent trans-rectal prostate biopsy at St Aidan's Hospital, where the vast majority of prostate biopsies in the KwaZulu-Natal state healthcare sector are performed, from January to June 2013. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences was used for data analysis.
One hundred and six patients (mean age 67.6 years, 69.8% black Africans) underwent biopsy during the 6-month study period; 49.1% were found to have adenocarcinoma, and of the 80.1% of these who had a bone scan, 73.8% had skeletal metastases (=0.1379). The median period of time from referral to biopsy was 55 days, from referral to first follow-up date (when the diagnosis is given and treatment options discussed or instituted) 100 days, and from biopsy to first follow-up date (i.e. waiting period to retrieve histological diagnosis) 36 days.
Despite the late presentation of prostate cancer in KZN, patients are waiting an average of 3 months from initial referral for a prostate biopsy to institution of definitive management.

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