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Br J Gen Pract. 2019 Feb;69(679):e80-e87. doi: 10.3399/bjgp19X700769. Epub 2019 Jan 14.

Association between GPs' suspicion of cancer and patients' usual consultation pattern in primary care: a cross-sectional study.

Author information

1
Research Centre for Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care, Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Aarhus.
2
Research Centre for Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care, Department of Public Health, Aarhus University; the Danish Clinical Registries (RKKP), Aarhus.
3
Research Centre for Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care, Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Aarhus; Research Unit for General Practice, Aarhus University, Aarhus.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Patients who rarely consult a GP in the 19-36 months before a cancer diagnosis have more advanced cancer at diagnosis and a worse prognosis. To ensure more timely diagnosis of cancer, the GP should suspect cancer as early as possible.

AIM:

To investigate the GP's suspicion of cancer according to the patient with cancer's usual consultation pattern in general practice.

DESIGN AND SETTING:

A cross-sectional study based on survey data from general practice of 3985 Danish patients diagnosed with cancer from May 2010 to August 2010, and linked to national register data.

METHOD:

Using logistic regression analysis with restricted cubic splines, the odds ratio (OR) of the GP to suspect cancer as a function of the patient's number of face-to-face consultations with the GP in the 19-36 months before a cancer diagnosis was estimated.

RESULTS:

GPs' cancer suspicion decreased with higher usual consultation frequency in general practice. A significant decreasing trend in ORs for cancer suspicion was seen across usual consultation categories overall (P<0.001) and for each sex (males: P<0.05; females: P<0.05). GPs' cancer suspicion was lower in patients aged <55 years in both rare and frequent attenders compared with average attenders.

CONCLUSION:

GPs suspect cancer more often in rare attenders ≥55 years. GPs' cancer suspicion was lower in younger patients (<55 years), in both rare and frequent attenders. GPs should be aware of possible missed opportunities for cancer diagnosis in young attenders and use safety netting to reduce the risk of missing a cancer diagnosis.

KEYWORDS:

Denmark; accessibility of health services; early diagnosis; general practice; healthcare delivery; neoplasms

PMID:
30642908
PMCID:
PMC6355274
[Available on 2020-02-01]
DOI:
10.3399/bjgp19X700769

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