Anglia Ruskin University
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Patients’ Experiences of a Sarcoma Diagnosis: A Process Mapping Exercise of Diagnostic Pathways

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-09, 15:47 authored by Lesley Storey, Lorna Fern, Rachel M Taylor, Sam Martin, Sigrun Clark, Craig Gerrand, Katie Gilchrist, Maria Lawal, Laura Maio, Ana Martins, Jeremy Whelan, Mary Wells, Rachael Windsor, Julie Woodford, Cecilia Vindrola-Padros
Patients with sarcoma often report prolonged time to diagnosis, which is attributed to the rarity of sarcoma and the low awareness of pre-diagnostic signs and symptoms. Aims: To describe patients’ experiences of pre-diagnostic signs/symptoms and pathways to diagnosis, including where help was sought, and the processes involved. Methods: Mixed methods involving quantitative, qualitative and inductive thematic analyses using novel process mapping of patient journey data, as reported by the patients. We examined the time from symptom onset to first professional presentation (patient interval, PI), first consultation to diagnostic biopsy, first consultation to diagnosis (diagnostic interval) and first presentation to diagnosis (total interval). Results: A total of 87 interviews were conducted over 5 months in 2017. Of these, 78 (40 males/38 females) were included. The sarcoma subtypes were bone (n = 21), soft tissue (n = 41), head and neck (n = 9) and gastro-intestinal (GIST; n = 7). Age at diagnosis was 13–24 (n = 7), 25–39 (n = 23), 40–64 (n = 34) and 65+ (n = 14) years. The median PI was 13 days (1–4971) and similar between sarcoma subtypes, with the exception of GIST (mPI = 2 days, (1–60). The longest mPI (31 days, range 4–762) was for those aged 13–24 years. The median diagnostic interval was 87.5 (range 0–5474 days). A total of 21 patients were misdiagnosed prior to diagnosis and symptoms were commonly attributed to lifestyle factors. Conclusions: Prolonged times to diagnosis were experienced by the majority of patients in our sample. Further research into the evolution of pre-diagnostic sarcoma symptoms is required to inform awareness interventions.



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