Women missing out on cancer diagnosis

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WOMEN with urinary cancers could be missing out on prompt diagnosis, say university researchers.

Around 700 women in England with symptoms of kidney or bladder cancer are missing out on early diagnosis and treatment, a study by Durham University has found.

The researchers suggest family doctors tend to attribute women’s – rather than men’s – initial symptoms to harmless causes, such as bacterial infections, and some women therefore have to visit their GP several times before they get referred to a specialist.

Survival rates for kidney and bladder cancer in England show that fewer women than men live for five years after diagnosis, and women were twice as likely as men to have visited their GP on three or more occasions before referral to a specialist.

Professor Greg Rubin, professor of general practice and primary care at Durham University and head of the National Audit of Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care, said: “We have shown that GPs don’t arrange specialist assessment of suspected bladder and kidney cancer as promptly for women as they do for men, possibly because women consult more often with urinary symptoms. Risk assessment aids may be one way of alerting them to the possibility of cancer and prompting earlier action.”

The research is being published in BMJ Open.