The path to see a cancer specialist isn’t always the same for every cancer patient.  As it turns out, certain groups of patients may have a longer road to the hospital than others.
A new survey of more than 41,000 cancer patients revealed that 77 percent of patients who visited a family doctor when they first experienced symptoms were referred to a specialist after only one or two consultations.
But for women, young patients, ethnic minorities, and people with less common types of cancers – such as multiple myeloma, pancreatic, stomach, and ovarian cancer – they were more likely to visit a doctor two or three times before they were referred to a hospital.
“The bottom line is we need to prioritize research on the diagnosis of cancer,” said Georgios Lyratzopoulos, clinical senior research associate at the University of Cambridge and lead investigator for the study.  “We’re highlighting the limitations of the cancer research model.  What has been forgotten implicitly is research to develop the better understanding of how people with cancer present – what is called ‘symptom signature.’”
The findings were a result of secondary analysis of the English National Cancer Patient Experience Survey done on cancer patients with 24 different cancers in 2010.  While the research is specific to U.K. doctors and hospitals, Lyratzopoulos said he is certain the trends he discovered will be echoed in future research conducted in the United States and beyond.