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Variation in promptness of presentation among 10,297 patients subsequently diagnosed with one of 18 cancers: Evidence from a National Audit of Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Greg RubinORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Cancer awareness public campaigns aim to shorten the interval between symptom onset and presentation to a doctor (the 'patient interval'). Appreciating variation in promptness of presentation can help to better target awareness campaigns. We explored variation in patient intervals recorded in consultations with general practitioners among 10,297 English patients subsequently diagnosed with one of 18 cancers (bladder, brain, breast, colorectal, endometrial, leukaemia, lung, lymphoma, melanoma, multiple myeloma, oesophageal, oro-pharyngeal, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, renal, stomach, and unknown primary) using data from of the National Audit of Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care (2009-2010). Proportions of patients with 'prompt'/'non-prompt' presentation (0-14 or 15+ days from symptom onset, respectively) were described and respective odds ratios were calculated by multivariable logistic regression. The overall median recorded patient interval was 10 days (IQR 0-38). Of all patients, 56% presented promptly. Prompt presentation was more frequent among older or housebound patients (p < 0.001). Prompt presentation was most frequent for bladder and renal cancer (74% and 70%, respectively); and least frequent for oro-pharyngeal and oesophageal cancer (34% and 39%, respectively, p <.001). Using lung cancer as reference, the adjusted odds ratios of non-prompt presentation were 2.26 (95% confidence interval 1.57-3.25) and 0.42 (0.34-0.52) for oro-pharyngeal and bladder cancer, respectively. Sensitivity analyses produced similar findings. Routinely recorded patient interval data reveal considerable variation in the promptness of presentation. These findings can help to prioritise public awareness initiatives and research focusing on symptoms of cancers associated with greater risk of non-prompt presentation, such as oro-pharyngeal and oesophageal cancer. What's new? A critical aspect of cancer diagnosis is how promptly patients consult a doctor after they first notice initial symptoms. Here, the authors examine differences in this so-called patient interval in English patients subsequently diagnosed with one of 18 cancers. On average, patients with bladder and renal cancer as well as older and housebound patients consulted a doctor relatively promptly while patients with oro-pharyngeal and oesophageal cancer took the longest until first presenting to a general practitioner. The authors point out that cancer awareness campaigns should encompass symptoms of oro-pharyngeal and oesophageal cancer aiming to shorten the patient interval for these cancers. © 2014 The Authors. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of UICC.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Keeble S, Abel GA, Saunders CL, McPhail S, Walter FM, Neal RD, Rubin GP, Lyratzopoulos G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Cancer

Year: 2014

Volume: 135

Issue: 5

Pages: 1220-1228

Print publication date: 01/09/2014

Online publication date: 16/06/2014

Acceptance date: 09/01/2014

Date deposited: 08/09/2017

ISSN (print): 0020-7136

ISSN (electronic): 1097-0215

Publisher: Wiley-Liss Inc.


DOI: 10.1002/ijc.28763

PubMed id: 24515930


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