BACKGROUND: Burden of cancer is increasing in developing countries, where healthcare infrastructures and resources are limited. Evaluating the pattern of care would provide evidence for planning and improvement of the situation.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We studied the pattern of residential place and clinical information of cancer patients who were admitted to the Cancer Institute of Iran from January 1, to May 31, 2012.
RESULTS: We studied 1,705 consecutive cancer patients admitted to the Cancer Institute in the study period. The most common cancers were breast (29.2%), colorectal (9.0%), stomach (8.3%), head & neck (8.0%) and esophageal (3.8%) cancers. Radiotherapy was the main treatment (52.1%) followed by chemotherapy (43.8%) and surgery (29.1%). We found that 60% of the patients presented in the loco-regional or advanced stages. About 35% of patients travelled from other provinces mainly from Mazandaran (13.4%), Lorestan (10.6%), Zanjan (7.8%) and Ghazvin (6.6%). On average, the cancer patients travelled about 455 kilometers to receive care in the cancer institute. We found more than 38% patients who were referred from other provinces had an early stage tumor.
CONCLUSION: Establishment of comprehensive cancer centers in different geographical regions and implementation of a proper referral system for advanced cancer patients is needed to improve the patient outcomes and mitigate the burden of travel of patients for cancer care.