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Br J Cancer. 2005 Jun 6;92(11):1971-5.

Sociodemographic factors and delays in the diagnosis of six cancers: analysis of data from the "National Survey of NHS Patients: Cancer".

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  • 1Department of General Practice, North Wales Clinical School, Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff University, Wrexham Technology Park, Wrexham LL13 7YP, Wales, UK. neal@cf.ac.uk


This paper aims to explore the relationship between sociodemographic factors and the components of diagnostic delay (total, patient and primary care, referral, secondary care) for these six cancers (breast, colorectal, lung, ovarian, prostate, or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma). Secondary analysis of patient-reported data from the 'National Survey of NHS patients: Cancer' was undertaken (65 192 patients). Data were analysed using univariate analysis and Generalised Linear Modelling. With regard to total delay, the findings from the GLM showed that for colorectal cancer, the significant factors were marital status and age, for lung and ovarian cancer none of the factors were significant, for prostate cancer the only significant factor was social class, for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma the only significant factor was age, and for breast cancer the significant factors were marital status and ethnic group. Where associations between any of the component delays were found, the direction of the association was always in the same direction (female subjects had longer delays than male subjects, younger people had longer delays than older people, single and separated/divorced people had longer delays than married people, lower social class groups had longer delays than higher social class groups, and Black and south Asian people had longer delays than white people). These findings should influence the design of interventions aimed at reducing diagnostic delays with the aim of improving morbidity, mortality, and psychological outcomes through earlier stage diagnosis.

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