A new study on 11 abdominal cancer types reveals differences in contact pattern to general practice in the year prior to diagnosis

A team of CanTest researchers, led by the Research Unit for General Practice in Aarhus, Denmark, has published a study in Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care that explores monthly contact rates and incidence rate ratios of daytime face-to-face, email and telephone consultations in general practice across different abdominal cancers.

The study, which included 47,898 cancer patients, found that compared to women with colon cancer, women with rectal cancer had the lowest number of contacts to general practice, whereas women with liver, pancreatic and kidney cancer had the highest number of contacts. Men showed similar patterns. Furthermore, from seven months pre-diagnostic, an increase in contacts to general practice was also seen in bladder cancer patients, particularly women, compared to colon cancer.

Using pre-diagnostic contact rates, this study unveiled that liver, pancreatic, kidney and bladder cancers had a higher and more prolonged use of general practice in the one year prior to diagnosis. These findings may suggest missed opportunities of diagnosing cancer. Thus, pre-diagnostic contact rates may indicate symptoms and signs for cancer that need further research to ensure early cancer diagnosis. This is crucial in the diagnostic process, as diagnosing most abdominal cancers earlier is probably the best way to improve prognosis and secure long-term survival.

The study suggests that GPs may need additional diagnostic opportunities to identify abdominal cancer in symptomatic patients and avoid missed opportunities. However, approaches are warranted to overcome the methodological challenges in identifying missed opportunities, particularly for cancers which are not associated with clear ‘alarm’ symptoms.

Read the paper here: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35362365/

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