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Patient dissatisfacton after a prolonged cancer diagnosis

More than three trips to the GP for a cancer diagnosis means patients are likely to feel dissatisfied and negative about their care overall, a Cancer Research UK study found.

Nearly 60,000 survey respondents were diagnosed through their GP, and 39% of those who had experienced referral delays were dissatisfied with the support they received from their GP and nurses overall, compared to 28% of those referred after one or two GP visits.

These patients were also slightly more dissatisfied with they way they were told they had cancer, with 18% compared to 14% among those who were referred after fewer visits.

Study author Dr Georgios Lyratzopoulos, a Cancer Research UK scientist at UCL, said: “This research shows that first impressions go a long way in determining how cancer patients view their experience of cancer treatment. A negative experience of diagnosis can trigger loss of confidence in their care throughout the cancer journey.

“When they occur, diagnostic delays are largely due to cancer symptoms being extremely hard to distinguish from other diseases, combined with a lack of accurate and easy-to-use tests. New diagnostic tools to help doctors decide which patients need referring are vital to improve the care experience for even more cancer patients,” he added.

The researchers, from UCL (University College London) and the University of Cambridge, also found that 40% of these patients expressed dissatisfaction with how hospital staff and GPs had worked with each other to provide the best possible care, compared to 33% among those referred promptly.