(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Patients in England who were women, ethnic minorities (Asian or black), and of a younger age (16 to 24 years) were more likely to have visited their general practitioner three or more times before a hospital referral for a subsequent diagnosis of multiple myeloma, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, and lung cancer, a study published in The Lancet Oncology online February 24 has found.

Conversely, those with a subsequent diagnosis of breast cancer, melanoma, testicular cancer, and endometrial cancer were more likely to have been referred after only one or two consultations.

The investigators analyzed data from 41,299 patients with 24 different cancers who participated in the 2010 National Cancer Patient Experience Survey in England. They identified wide variation between cancer types in the proportion of patients who had three or more visits prior to hospital referral: 7.4% for breast cancer, 10.1% for melanoma, 41.3% for pancreatic cancer, and 50.6% for multiple myeloma.

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“Our findings could help to prioritize and stratify early diagnosis initiatives and research, focusing on patients with cancers and sociodemographic characteristics with the largest potential for improvement,” the authors wrote.