How frequently do young people with potential cancer symptoms present in primary care?

L.A. Fern, C. Campbell, D. Weller, R. Grant, T.O.B. Eden, I. Lewis, U. Macleod, J. Whelan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although uncommon in teenagers and young adults, cancer is the leading cause of non-accidental death in those aged 15-24 years. A prolonged period to cancer diagnosis in this cohort is reported and thought to be a consequence of the rarity of cancer in this age group, together with the complexity of presenting symptoms. Although diagnostic delay is perceived to be a problem for teenagers and young adults with cancer, little research has focused on their use of primary care services. Aim: To determine how often teenagers and young adults consult, their reasons for doing so, and how often potential oncological symptoms ('alert' symptoms) appear. Design and setting: Retrospective audit of consultations over 1 year. Three general medical practices in Scotland. Method: Medical records were examined for 2326 teenagers and young adults. Date of birth, sex, and free-text relating to the consultation were recorded and coded according to an agreed coding system; symptoms of potential oncological significance were coded as alert symptoms. Results: A total of 1659 teenagers and young adults (71.3% of registered patients) attended their GP at least once. Females attended more frequently than males (P
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number586
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2011


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