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Oral Oncol. 2007 Aug;43(7):648-55. Epub 2006 Oct 25.

An assessment of deprivation as a factor in the delays in presentation, diagnosis and treatment in patients with oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma.

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Regional Maxillofacial Unit, University Hospital Aintree, Fazakerley, Liverpool, UK.


This study explores the relationship between deprivation and patient and professional delays in presentation and treatment of oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. The cohort comprised 559 consecutive previously untreated patients presenting to the Regional Maxillofacial Unit, Liverpool from 1 January 1992 to 31 December 2002. All had primary surgery. The head and neck database was searched together with a review of casenotes. Deprivation was scored using the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2000 (IMD 2000) from patient post codes. PATIENT DELAY: Similar numbers of patients presented to general dental and general medical practitioners. The predominant presenting symptom was either an ulcer or swelling and 38% had symptoms for 3 or more months. Patients with shorter duration of symptoms tended to be smokers, drinkers, with lower gum and floor of mouth tumours, and more advanced disease. Primary health professional, patient age, gender, marital status, and deprivation showed no obvious correlation with patient delay. PROFESSIONAL DELAY: For 78% of patients a referral letter from GPs and GDPs was sent to the MFU on the same day as the primary consultation. There was on average about 3 weeks from referral to definitive diagnosis and about another 3 weeks before having surgery. Professional delay was shorter in patients with more advanced tumours and for patients living in the most deprived of wards. Deprivation did not seem to significantly lengthen presentation or referral however it may be that it is associated with more rapidly growing tumours.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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