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Episode 102: Combining vague cancer symptoms to improve referrals for suspected cancer

Today, we talk to Becky White, who is a Research Fellow at the Epidemiology of Cancer Healthcare and Outcomes Research Group at UCL.

Paper: Underlying cancer risk among patients with fatigue and other vague symptoms in primary care: a population-based cohort study

Available at: https://doi.org/10.3399/BJGP.2022.0371

When patients present to GPs with new-onset fatigue and no alarm symptoms for cancer, optimal management is often unclear, as it is not known which of these patients may be at risk of having present but currently undetected cancer. We found that among fatigue presenters without alarm symptoms, the chance of underlying cancer exceeded risk referral thresholds of 3% in older men with fatigue combined with any of another 19 vague symptoms for cancer, and in older women with fatigue-weight loss, fatigue-abdominal pain, or fatigue-abdominal bloating. These findings can support diagnostic management and referral decisions for patients presenting with fatigue in the absence of alarm symptoms for cancer.

The BJGP is the world-leading primary care journal. At BJGP Life we add multi-media comment and opinion for the primary care community.

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