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Do comorbidities influence help-seeking for cancer alarm symptoms? A population-based survey in England

Salika, Theodosia, Lyratzopoulos, Georgios, Whitaker, Katriina, Waller, Jo and Renzi, Cristina (2017) Do comorbidities influence help-seeking for cancer alarm symptoms? A population-based survey in England Journal of Public Health. pp. 1-10.

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Background We examined associations between different chronic morbidities and help-seeking for possible cancer symptoms. Methods Postal survey of individuals aged>50 years in England. Participants could report prior morbidities in respect of 12 pre-defined conditions. Among patients experiencing possible cancer symptoms we examined associations between specific morbidities and self-reported help-seeking (i.e. contacted versus not contacted a GP) for each alarm symptom using regression analyses. Results Among 2042 respondents (42% response rate), 936 (46%) recently experienced one of 14 possible cancer symptoms considered in our analysis. Of them, 80% reported one or more morbidities, most frequently hypertension/hypercholesterolemia (40%), osteomuscular (36%) and heart diseases (21%). After adjustment for socio-demographic characteristics, patients with hypertension/hypercholesterolemia were more likely to report help-seeking for possible cancer symptoms, such as unexplained cough (OR=2.0; 95%CI 1.1-3.5), pain (OR=2.2; 95%CI 1.0-4.5) and abdominal bloating (OR=2.3; 95%CI 1.1-4.8). Urinary morbidity was associated with increased help-seeking for abdominal bloating (OR=5.4; 95%CI 1.2-23.7) or rectal bleeding (OR=5.8; 95%CI 1.4-23.8). In contrast, heart problems reduced help-seeking for change in bowel habits (OR=0.4; 95%CI 0.2-1.0). Conclusions Comorbidities are common and may facilitate help-seeking for possible cancer symptoms, but associations vary for specific symptom-comorbidity pairs. The findings can contribute to the design of future cancer symptom awareness campaigns.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Authors :
Salika, Theodosia
Lyratzopoulos, Georgios
Waller, Jo
Renzi, Cristina
Date : 24 June 2017
DOI : 10.1093/pubmed/fdx072
Copyright Disclaimer : © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Faculty of Public Health. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Uncontrolled Keywords : Comorbidity; Cancer; Help-seeking; Symptoms; Diagnosis
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 08 Jun 2017 09:32
Last Modified : 16 Jan 2019 18:53

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