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Open Access Research article

Time to follow up after an abnormal finding in organized gastric cancer screening in Korea

Hoo-Yeon Lee1, Kui Son Choi2, Jae Kwan Jun2, Myung-Il Hahm3 and Eun-Cheol Park4*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Social Medicine, College of Medicine, Dankook University, 201, Manghyang-ro, Dongnam-gu, Cheonan-si, Choongnam, 330-714, Korea

2 National Cancer Control Institute, National Cancer Center, 111, Ilsan-ro, Ilsandong-gu Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do, 410-769, Korea

3 Department of Health Administration and Management, College of Medical Science, Soonchunhyang University, Shinchang-myun, Asan-si, Choongnam, 336-745, Korea

4 Department of Preventive Medicine & Institute of Health Services Research, College of Medicine, Yonsei University, 50 Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, 120-749, Korea

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Citation and License

BMC Cancer 2012, 12:400  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-400

Published: 10 September 2012



The prognosis for an abnormal medical finding is affected by both early detection and adherence to the presecribed schedule for follow-up examinations. In this study, we examined the time to follow up after an abnormal finding and determined the risk factors related to delays in follow up in a population-based screening program.


The study population consisted of patients who were newly diagnosed with gastric cancer through a gastric cancer screening program sponsored by the National Cancer Screening Program (NCSP) in 2005. Due to the skewed nature of the distribution of time to follow up, medians and interquartile ranges (IQR) are presented, and we analyzed the number of days preceding the follow-up time as a binary variable (≤90 days or >90 days). We used logistic regression analyses to evaluate the risk factors for a long delay.


The median number of days to follow-up initiation after an abnormal finding was 11 (IQR 7–27); 13.9% of the patients with gastric cancer obtained their follow-up evaluation more than 90 days. Age, type of health insurance, screening method, and screening results were risk factors for delays in follow up.


This study examined delays from the time of the discovery of an abnormal finding to time of the follow-up evaluation. Because inadequate follow up of abnormal exam results undermines the potential benefits of cancer screening, it is important to organize services that minimize delays between cancer screening and treatment.

Cancer screening; Delays in follow up; Gastric cancer; Organized screening