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Young people with cancer face diagnosis delays, say studies

Studies have suggested that teenagers and young adults with cancer are facing long delays in being diagnosed.

One of the three studies, which will be presented at Teenage Cancer Trust’s fifth international conference on teenage and young adult cancer medicine today, found that in 115 patients with bone tumours, the time between the first symptoms and a diagnosis (the symptom interval) ranged from between four and 184 weeks with the average time being 15.2 weeks.

A second study, found a symptom interval of between two and 192 weeks, with an average of 9.5, in a group of 95 patients with a variety of tumours.

Tim Eden, Teenage Cancer Trust Professor of Teenage & Young Adult Cancer at the University of Manchester, UK, who led these studies said:

“It would appear that when we compare these data with studies of children with cancer, teenagers and young adults do face greater delays in diagnosis, particularly for bone and brain tumours and Hodgkin lymphoma. In our studies the professional interval has always been longer than patient symptom interval.

“There appears to be delay at primary, secondary and tertiary care levels. Interventions are being explored, both to educate the public, and young people in particular, to seek help for worrying symptoms and to empower them to push for referral to specialists.”

The third study, presented to the conference by Ms Sam Smith, a teenage and young adult nurse consultant in the Teenage Cancer Trust Unit at the Christie Hospital, Manchester found that in a survery of 207 young people with cancer, four out of five sought rapid medical help with only 7% delaying for months or more.

Teenage Cancer Trust

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

“Yes. Young adults in Canada experience the same delayed diagnosis as in the UK. A lot of the time this is because doctors feel they are ‘young and healthy’ so there can’t be anything wrong with them. But cancer happens to young adults, and like any age, the earlier the diagnosis, the better the survival rate.” – Lesley Kean, Young Adult Cancer Canada, Canada

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