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Referral pathways and diagnosis: UK government action fails to recognize complexity of lymphoma

Howell, D.A., Smith, A.G. and Roman, E. (2007) Referral pathways and diagnosis: UK government action fails to recognize complexity of lymphoma. European Journal of Cancer Care, 16 (6). pp. 529-535. ISSN 0961-5423

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Abstract

To gain survival advantages potentially associated with prompt diagnosis, the UK government introduced identical waiting-time targets for all cancers, and guidelines to ensure that general practitioners make appropriate hospital referrals. For lymphoma, the evidence guiding these actions is limited. This study examined referral pathways in patients with lymphoma and variations in time to diagnosis by discipline of first referral. A case series study was conducted including all patients aged over 25 years, newly diagnosed with lymphoma in the UK county of West Yorkshire, during 2000. Data were extracted from primary care and hospital records of 189 patients. Referral pathways were described, and the number of days between first referral and diagnosis calculated. A distinct referral pathway did not exist; patients were initially referred to many disciplines. Surgical referrals predominated, and only 12% of patients were sent directly to haematology. Time to diagnosis varied by discipline and was shorter for patients sent to haematology than for most other common disciplines. UK government actions to ensure the prompt diagnosis of patients with lymphoma are not evidence-based. The complexity of the referral pathway in patients with lymphoma, which affects time to diagnosis, has been underestimated. Further government actions should be evidence-based, ensuring prompt diagnosis of lymphoma from whatever discipline patients originate.

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Health Sciences (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 25 May 2009 14:49
Last Modified: 25 May 2009 14:49
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2354.2007.00789.x
Status: Published
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1365-2354.2007.00789.x
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/6172

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