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Episode 087: Considering symptom appraisal and help seeking for cancer symptoms in older adults

In this episode, we talk to Dr Dan Jones, who is a GP and an Academic Clinical Lecturer at the University of Leeds.

Paper: Factors influencing symptom appraisal and help-seeking of older adults with possible cancer: a mixed methods systematic review.

https://doi.org/10.3399/BJGP.2021.0655

The burden of cancer falls predominantly on older (≥65 years) adults, and prompt presentation to primary care with cancer symptoms results in better patient outcomes. The current review, which included 80 studies, found that older adults with cancer symptoms may have prolonged symptom appraisal and shorter help-seeking intervals prior to presenting to general practice. Factors such as knowledge of cancer symptoms, the influence of family and carers, fear, embarrassment, comorbidities, and patient self-management all affected the appraisal or help-seeking interval. Clinicians should be aware of patient difficulty in distinguishing potentially worrying cancer symptoms from symptoms of ageing as a result of frailty or comorbidities.

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