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Is late diagnosis of lung cancer inevitable? Interview study of patients’ recollections of symptoms before diagnosis

Is late diagnosis of lung cancer inevitable? Interview study of patients’ recollections of symptoms before diagnosis
Is late diagnosis of lung cancer inevitable? Interview study of patients’ recollections of symptoms before diagnosis
Background: A study was undertaken to explore the pathway to diagnosis among a group of patients recently diagnosed with lung cancer.
Methods: A directed interview study triangulating patients’ accounts with hospital and GP records was performed with 22 men and women recently diagnosed with lung cancer at two cancer centres in the south and north of England. The main outcome measures were the symptoms leading up to a diagnosis of lung cancer and patient and GP responses before diagnosis.
Results: Patients recalled having new symptoms for many months, typically over the year before their diagnosis, irrespective of their disease stage once diagnosed. Chest symptoms (cough, breathing changes, and pain in the chest) were common, as were systemic symptoms (fatigue/lethargy, weight loss and eating changes). Although symptoms were reported as being marked changes in health, these were not in the main (with the exception of haemoptysis) interpreted as serious by patients at the time and not acted on. Once the trigger for action occurred (the event that took patients to their GP or elsewhere in the healthcare system), events were relatively speedy and were faster for patients who presented via their GP than via other routes. Patients’ beliefs about health changes that may indicate lung cancer appeared to have played a part in delay in diagnosis.
Conclusion: Further investigation of the factors influencing the timing of diagnosis in lung cancer is warranted since it appears that patients did not readily attend GP surgeries with symptoms. Insight into patients’ perspectives on their experience before diagnosis may help medical carers to recognise patients with lung cancer more easily so that they can refer them for diagnosis and treatment. Encouragement to present early with signs of lung cancer should be considered alongside other efforts to speed up diagnosis and treatment.
diagnosis, lung cancer, patients, recollections, symptons
0040-6376
314-319
Corner, J.
eddc9d69-aa12-4de5-8ab0-b20a6b5765fa
Hopkinson, J.
6cb418a6-7a9c-4b19-b84a-4c90c64339e8
Fitzsimmons, D.
ad5cd3da-d85b-46d1-a31f-8d634486d739
Barclay, S.
980487fd-d6a7-4619-b5b7-a3853ae53908
Muers, M.
7ba1ce55-c2ee-48f1-8ccf-fac4a05385cd
Corner, J.
eddc9d69-aa12-4de5-8ab0-b20a6b5765fa
Hopkinson, J.
6cb418a6-7a9c-4b19-b84a-4c90c64339e8
Fitzsimmons, D.
ad5cd3da-d85b-46d1-a31f-8d634486d739
Barclay, S.
980487fd-d6a7-4619-b5b7-a3853ae53908
Muers, M.
7ba1ce55-c2ee-48f1-8ccf-fac4a05385cd

Corner, J., Hopkinson, J., Fitzsimmons, D., Barclay, S. and Muers, M. (2005) Is late diagnosis of lung cancer inevitable? Interview study of patients’ recollections of symptoms before diagnosis. Thorax, 60 (4), 314-319. (doi:10.1136/thx.2004.029264).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Background: A study was undertaken to explore the pathway to diagnosis among a group of patients recently diagnosed with lung cancer.
Methods: A directed interview study triangulating patients’ accounts with hospital and GP records was performed with 22 men and women recently diagnosed with lung cancer at two cancer centres in the south and north of England. The main outcome measures were the symptoms leading up to a diagnosis of lung cancer and patient and GP responses before diagnosis.
Results: Patients recalled having new symptoms for many months, typically over the year before their diagnosis, irrespective of their disease stage once diagnosed. Chest symptoms (cough, breathing changes, and pain in the chest) were common, as were systemic symptoms (fatigue/lethargy, weight loss and eating changes). Although symptoms were reported as being marked changes in health, these were not in the main (with the exception of haemoptysis) interpreted as serious by patients at the time and not acted on. Once the trigger for action occurred (the event that took patients to their GP or elsewhere in the healthcare system), events were relatively speedy and were faster for patients who presented via their GP than via other routes. Patients’ beliefs about health changes that may indicate lung cancer appeared to have played a part in delay in diagnosis.
Conclusion: Further investigation of the factors influencing the timing of diagnosis in lung cancer is warranted since it appears that patients did not readily attend GP surgeries with symptoms. Insight into patients’ perspectives on their experience before diagnosis may help medical carers to recognise patients with lung cancer more easily so that they can refer them for diagnosis and treatment. Encouragement to present early with signs of lung cancer should be considered alongside other efforts to speed up diagnosis and treatment.

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Published date: 2005
Keywords: diagnosis, lung cancer, patients, recollections, symptons

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 17369
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/17369
ISSN: 0040-6376
PURE UUID: e1c0781c-3cc9-46ed-b642-aec02ec63623

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Date deposited: 24 May 2006
Last modified: 15 Jul 2019 19:29

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