Symptoms and signs of urogenital cancer in primary care

Knut Holtedahl, Lars Borgquist, Gé A Donker, Frank Buntinx, David Weller, Christine Campbell, Jörgen Månsson, Victoria Hammersley, Tonje Braaten, Ranjan Parajuli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: Urogenital cancers are common, accounting for approximately 20% of cancer incidence globally. Cancers belonging to the same organ system often present with similar symptoms, making initial management challenging. In this study, 511 cases of cancer were recorded after the date of consultation among 61,802 randomly selected patients presenting in primary care in six European countries: a subgroup analysis of urogenital cancers was carried out in order to study variation in symptom presentation.

METHODS: Initial data capture was by completion of standardised forms containing closed questions about symptoms recorded during the consultation. The general practitioner (GP) provided follow-up data after diagnosis, based on medical record data made after the consultation. GPs also provided free text comments about the diagnostic procedure for individual patients.

RESULTS: The most common symptoms were mainly associated with one or two specific types of cancer: 'Macroscopic haematuria' with bladder or renal cancer (combined sensitivity 28.3%), 'Increased urinary frequency' with bladder (sensitivity 13.3%) or prostatic (sensitivity 32.1%) cancer, or to uterine body (sensitivity 14.3%) cancer, 'Unexpected genital bleeding' with uterine cancer (cervix, sensitivity 20.0%, uterine body, sensitivity 71.4%). 'Distended abdomen, bloating' had sensitivity 62.5% (based on eight cases of ovarian cancer). In ovarian cancer, increased abdominal circumference and a palpable tumour also were important diagnostic elements. Specificity for 'Macroscopic haematuria' was 99.8% (99.7-99.8). PPV > 3% was noted for 'Macroscopic haematuria' and bladder or renal cancer combined, for bladder cancer in male patients. In males aged 55-74, PPV = 7.1% for 'Macroscopic haematuria' and bladder cancer. Abdominal pain was an infrequent symptom in urogenital cancers.

CONCLUSIONS: Most types of urogenital cancer present with rather specific symptoms. If the GP considers ovarian cancer, increased abdominal circumference should be actively determined. Several cases were clarified through the GP's clinical examination, or laboratory investigations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107
Pages (from-to)107
JournalBMC Primary Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Bladder cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • General practice
  • Neoplasms
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Primary health care
  • Prostate cancer
  • Renal cancer
  • Urogenital cancer
  • Uterine body cancer


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