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J Cancer Educ. 2013 Sep;28(3):402-7. doi: 10.1007/s13187-013-0465-1.

Understanding the needs of colorectal cancer patients during the pre-diagnosis phase.

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  • 1Office of Education, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON, Canada.


Patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) face a number of challenges leading up to diagnosis; however, research is limited regarding their specific needs during the pre-diagnosis period. A multicenter cross-sectional survey was conducted to elicit information about the CRC experience during the pre-diagnosis phase. Across the three sites, 104 eligible patients were approached, and 82 patients completed the survey, for a total response rate of 78.9%. The needs most identified by participants during the pre-diagnosis period were informational (31.6%) and emotional (20.3%) needs; social needs were rated as the least important need for these patients (7%). The majority (84.0%) reported that these needs were met. Participants reported feeling shocked or overwhelmed on learning of their diagnosis (57.1%) and high levels of anxiety during this time (40.0%). The majority (77.9%) of participants reported that they were not directed to any resources to help address their anxiety. Informational and emotional needs are identified as the most important needs during the pre-diagnosis phase, and for most these needs are being met; however, some participants are experiencing high levels of anxiety without access to appropriate resources. Further work is required to understand the optimal mechanisms to address identified needs during this pre-diagnosis period and to assess the potential benefits and costs of addressing these needs.

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