PLoS One. 2020 Aug 5;15(8):e0236799. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0236799. eCollection 2020.
INTRODUCTION: Numerous prior studies, even from countries with free access to care, have associated long travel time to care with poor survival in patients with colorectal cancer.
METHODS: This is a data-linkage study of all 3718 patients with colorectal cancer, diagnosed between 2007 and 2013 in Northern Sweden, one of the most sparsely populated areas in Europe. Travel time to nearest hospital was calculated based on GPS coordinates and multivariable Cox regression was used to analyse possible associations between travel time and cause-specific survival.
RESULTS: No association between travel time and survival was observed, either in univariable analysis (colon HR 1.00 [95% CI 0.998-1.003]; rectal HR 0.998; [95% CI 0.995-1.002]) or in multivariable Cox regression analysis (colon HR 0.999 [95% CI 0.997-1.002]; rectal HR 0.997 [95% CI 0.992-1.002]).
CONCLUSIONS: In contrast to most other studies, no association between travel time and colorectal cancer survival was found; despite that longer travel time was associated with known risk factors for poorer outcome. In the Swedish health care setting, travel time does not appear to represent a barrier to care or to negatively influence outcomes.