The treatment of patients with colon and rectal cancer frequently involves multiple disciplines of medicine, including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Timely treatment is widely accepted as a cornerstone of quality of care, with the goal of arresting progression of disease and alleviating patient anxiety. Existing research, however, has had difficulties with characterizing the relationship between delays in treatment and short- or long-term outcomes. In this review we examine reasons for this and propose that, despite these difficulties, timely treatment is an appropriate target for efforts in quality assessment and quality improvement.
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