Quantifying the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in symptomatic primary care patients aged ≥40 years: a large case-control study using electronic records
British Journal of General Practice
Royal College of General Practitioners
BACKGROUND: Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is the sixth most common cancer in the UK; approximately 35 people are diagnosed and 13 die from the disease daily. AIM: To identify the primary care clinical features of NHL and quantify their risk in symptomatic patients. DESIGN AND SETTING: Matched case-control study using Clinical Practice Research Datalink patient records. METHOD: Putative clinical features of NHL were identified in the year before diagnosis. Results were analysed using conditional logistic regression and positive predictive values (PPVs). RESULTS: A total of 4362 patients aged ≥40 years, diagnosed with NHL between 2000 and 2009, and 19 468 age, sex, and general practice-matched controls were studied. Twenty features were independently associated with NHL. The five highest risk symptoms were lymphadenopathy, odds ratio (OR) 263 (95% CI = 133 to 519), head and neck mass not described as lymphadenopathy OR 49 (95% CI = 32 to 74), other mass OR 12 (95% CI = 10 to 16), weight loss OR 3.2 (95% CI = 2.3 to 4.4), and abdominal pain OR 2.5 (95% CI = 2.1 to 2.9). Lymphadenopathy has a PPV of 13% for NHL in patients ≥60 years. Weight loss in conjunction with repeated back pain or raised gamma globulin had PPVs >2%. CONCLUSION: Unexplained lymphadenopathy in patients aged ≥60 years produces a very high risk of NHL in primary care. These patients warrant urgent investigation, potentially sooner than 6 weeks from initial presentation where the GP is particularly concerned.
This article presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Programme Grants for Applied Research Programme (Grant Reference Number RP-PG-0608-10045). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health. Fiona M Walter is part-funded by a NIHR Clinician Scientist award. Richard D Neal is part-funded by Public Health Wales and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Royal College of General Practitioners via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 65 (634): e281 -e288
Place of publication