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‘Urgent suspicion of cancer’ referrals to a head and neck clinic – what do patients expect?

  • J Montgomery (a1), C M Douglas (a1), F Begbie (a1), A Hitchings (a1) and K MacKenzie (a2)...

Abstract

Background

Public awareness of ‘red flag’ symptoms for head and neck cancer is low. There is a lack of evidence regarding patient concerns and expectations in consultations for cancer assessment.

Method

This prospective questionnaire study examined the symptoms, concerns and expectations of 250 consecutive patients attending an ‘urgent suspicion of cancer’ clinic at a tertiary referral centre.

Results

The patients’ most frequent responses regarding their concerns were ‘no concerns’ (n = 72, 29 per cent); ‘all symptoms’ were a cause for concern (n = 65, 26 per cent) and ‘neck lump’ was a symptom causing concern (n = 37, 17 per cent). The expectations of patients attending clinic were that they would find out what was wrong with them, followed by having no expectations at all. Overall patient knowledge of red flag symptoms was lacking and their expectations were low.

Conclusion

Patients with non-cancer symptoms are frequently referred with suspected cancer. Patients with red flag symptoms are not aware of their significance and they have low expectations of healthcare.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Ms J Montgomery, Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Govan Road, Glasgow G51 4TF, Scotland, UK E-mail: Jennifer.montgomery@nhs.net

Footnotes

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Ms J Montgomery takes responsibility for the integrity of the content of the paper

Footnotes

References

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