Who and what influences delayed presentation in breast cancer?
Burgess CC., Ramirez AJ., Richards MA., Love SB.
This study aimed to examine the extent and determinants of patient and general practitioner delay in the presentation of breast cancer. One hundred and eighty-five cancer patients attending a breast unit were interviewed 2 months after diagnosis. The main outcome measures were patient delay in presentation to the general practitioner and non-referral by the general practitioner to hospital after the patient's first visit. Nineteen per cent of patients delayed > or = 12 weeks. Patient delay was related to clinical tumour size > or = 4 cm (P = 0.0002) and with a higher incidence of locally advanced and metastatic disease (P = 0.01). A number of factors predicted patient delay: initial breast symptom(s) that did not include a lump (OR 4.5, P = 0.003), not disclosing discovery of the breast symptom immediately to someone else (OR 6.0, P < 0.001), seeking help only after being prompted by others (OR 4.4, P = 0.007) and presenting to the general practitioner with a non-breast problem (OR 3.5, P = 0.03). Eighty-three per cent of patients were referred to hospital directly after their first general practitioner visit. Presenting to the GP with a breast symptom that did not include a lump independently predicted general practitioner delay (OR 3.6, P = 0.002). In view of the increasing evidence that delay adversely affects survival, a large multicentre study is now warranted to confirm these findings that may have implications for public and medical education.