Delays in diagnosis of young females with symptomatic cervical cancer in England: an interview-based study.
British Journal of General Practice
Royal College of General Practitioners
This is the final version of the article. Available from Royal College of General Practitioners via the DOI in this record.
BACKGROUND: Diagnosis may be delayed in young females with cervical cancer because of a failure to recognise symptoms. AIM: To examine the extent and determinants of delays in diagnosis of young females with symptomatic cervical cancer. DESIGN AND SETTING: A national descriptive study of time from symptoms to diagnosis of cervical cancer and risk factors for delay in diagnosis at all hospitals diagnosing cervical cancer in England. METHOD: One-hundred and twenty-eight patients <30 years with a recent diagnosis of cervical cancer were interviewed. Patient delay was defined as ≥3 months from symptom onset to first presentation and provider delay as ≥ 3 months from first presentation to diagnosis. RESULTS: Forty (31%) patients had presented symptomatically: 11 (28%) delayed presentation. Patient delay was more common in patients <25 than patients aged 25-29 (40% versus 15%, P = 0.16). Vaginal discharge was more common among patients who delayed presentation than those who did not; many reported not recognising this as a possible cancer symptom. Provider delay was reported by 24/40 (60%); in some no report was found in primary care records of a visual inspection of the cervix and some did not re-attend after the first presentation for several months. Gynaecological symptoms were common (84%) among patients who presented via screening. CONCLUSIONS: Young females with cervical cancer frequently delay presentation, and not recognising symptoms as serious may increase the risk of delay. Delay in diagnosis after first presentation is also common. There is some evidence that UK guidelines for managing young females with abnormal bleeding are not being followed.
This study was funded by NHS Cancer Screening Programmes (JP/pat/L155). Julietta Patnick (Director of Cancer Screening Programmes in England) commented on and approved the final version of the manuscript, but was not involved in the development of methods, data collection, analysis, or interpretation of the data.
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Vol. 64, pp. e602 - e610
Place of publication