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1.  Risk factors and time to symptomatic presentation in leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma 
British Journal of Cancer  2015;113(7):1114-1120.
UK policy aims to improve cancer outcomes by promoting early diagnosis, which for many haematological malignancies is particularly challenging as the pathways leading to diagnosis can be difficult and prolonged.
A survey about symptoms was sent to patients in England with acute leukaemia, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Symptoms and barriers to first help seeking were examined for each subtype, along with the relative risk of waiting >3 months' time from symptom onset to first presentation to a doctor, controlling for age, sex and deprivation.
Of the 785 respondents, 654 (83.3%) reported symptoms; most commonly for NHL (95%) and least commonly for CLL (67.9%). Some symptoms were frequent across diseases while others were more disease-specific. Overall, 16% of patients (n=114) waited >3 months before presentation; most often in CML (24%) and least in acute leukaemia (9%). Significant risk factors for >3 months to presentation were: night sweats (particularly CLL and NHL), thirst, abdominal pain/discomfort, looking pale (particularly acute leukaemias), and extreme fatigue/tiredness (particularly CML and NHL); and not realising symptom(s) were serious.
These findings demonstrate important differences by subtype, which should be considered in strategies promoting early presentation. Not realising the seriousness of some symptoms indicates a worrying lack of public awareness.
PMCID: PMC4651121  PMID: 26325101
diagnostic delay; patient interval; help seeking
2.  Socioeconomic inequalities in attitudes towards cancer: an international cancer benchmarking partnership study 
Socioeconomic status (SES) differences in attitudes towards cancer have been implicated in the differential screening uptake and the timeliness of symptomatic presentation. However, the predominant emphasis of this work has been on cancer fatalism, and many studies focus on specific community subgroups. This study aimed to assess SES differences in positive and negative attitudes towards cancer in UK adults. A population-based sample of UK adults (n=6965, age≥50 years) completed the Awareness and Beliefs about Cancer scale, including six belief items: three positively framed (e.g. ‘Cancer can often be cured’) and three negatively framed (e.g. ‘A cancer diagnosis is a death sentence’). SES was indexed by education. Analyses controlled for sex, ethnicity, marital status, age, self-rated health, and cancer experience. There were few education-level differences for the positive statements, and overall agreement was high (all>90%). In contrast, there were strong differences for negative statements (all Ps<0.001). Among respondents with lower education levels, 57% agreed that ‘treatment is worse than cancer’, 27% that cancer is ‘a death sentence’ and 16% ‘would not want to know if I have cancer’. Among those with university education, the respective proportions were 34, 17 and 6%. Differences were not explained by cancer experience or health status. In conclusion, positive statements about cancer outcomes attract near-universal agreement. However, this optimistic perspective coexists alongside widespread fears about survival and treatment, especially among less-educated groups. Health education campaigns targeting socioeconomically disadvantaged groups might benefit from a focus on reducing negative attitudes, which is not necessarily achieved by promoting positive attitudes.
PMCID: PMC4372163  PMID: 25734238
attitude; cancer; education; fear; hope; social class
3.  Delays in diagnosis of young females with symptomatic cervical cancer in England: an interview-based study 
The British Journal of General Practice  2014;64(627):e602-e610.
Diagnosis may be delayed in young females with cervical cancer because of a failure to recognise symptoms.
To examine the extent and determinants of delays in diagnosis of young females with symptomatic cervical cancer.
Design and setting
A national descriptive study of time from symptoms to diagnosis of cervical cancer and risk factors for delay in diagnosis at all hospitals diagnosing cervical cancer in England.
One-hundred and twenty-eight patients <30 years with a recent diagnosis of cervical cancer were interviewed. Patient delay was defined as ≥3 months from symptom onset to first presentation and provider delay as ≥ 3 months from first presentation to diagnosis.
Forty (31%) patients had presented symptomatically: 11 (28%) delayed presentation. Patient delay was more common in patients <25 than patients aged 25–29 (40% versus 15%, P = 0.16). Vaginal discharge was more common among patients who delayed presentation than those who did not; many reported not recognising this as a possible cancer symptom. Provider delay was reported by 24/40 (60%); in some no report was found in primary care records of a visual inspection of the cervix and some did not re-attend after the first presentation for several months. Gynaecological symptoms were common (84%) among patients who presented via screening.
Young females with cervical cancer frequently delay presentation, and not recognising symptoms as serious may increase the risk of delay. Delay in diagnosis after first presentation is also common. There is some evidence that UK guidelines for managing young females with abnormal bleeding are not being followed.
PMCID: PMC4173722  PMID: 25267045
cervical cancer; delays; early diagnosis; symptoms; young females
4.  Measuring the nature and duration of symptoms of cervical cancer in young women: developing an interview-based approach 
BMC Women's Health  2013;13:45.
Some young women experience delays in diagnosis of cervical cancer, but little research about ways of studying these delays has been published. A major challenge is that gynaecological symptoms are common in young women, but cervical cancer is rare. This study describes the development and testing of a measure for studying delays in diagnosis in young women with cervical cancer.
Prospective development of an interview measure and testing of its ability to reliably and systematically collect relevant data in two large hospitals in London, UK using 27 women aged 18–40 diagnosed with cervical cancer in the previous two years. We developed a semi-structured interview schedule and data extraction form to systematically collect data on symptoms (including nature and duration) and risk factors for delayed diagnosis from young women with cervical cancer. We piloted the measure among young women with cervical cancer (audiorecording it with their permission), refining it iteratively. To complete the measure, we developed a database for managing the data and a manual for using the schedule. Two researchers extracted data from the recorded interviews to assess inter-rater reliability.
The final interview schedule yielded quantitative data on the nature and duration of symptoms and risk factors for delayed diagnosis. Inter-rater reliability was high. In the pilot, 12 of the 27 women were diagnosed via symptomatic presentation. Median time from the symptom triggering presentation to presentation was one month (interquartile range 0–4 months). Median time from presentation to diagnosis was three months (interquartile range 1–8.5 months).
We have developed a reliable tool for measuring the nature and duration of symptoms in young women with cervical cancer. Pilot data suggest that a substantial proportion of women experience delay between first presentation and diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3835395  PMID: 24219028
Cervical cancer; Early diagnosis; Symptoms
5.  An international measure of awareness and beliefs about cancer: development and testing of the ABC 
BMJ Open  2012;2(6):e001758.
To develop an internationally validated measure of cancer awareness and beliefs; the awareness and beliefs about cancer (ABC) measure.
Design and setting
Items modified from existing measures were assessed by a working group in six countries (Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the UK). Validation studies were completed in the UK, and cross-sectional surveys of the general population were carried out in the six participating countries.
Testing in UK English included cognitive interviewing for face validity (N=10), calculation of content validity indexes (six assessors), and assessment of test–retest reliability (N=97). Conceptual and cultural equivalence of modified (Canadian and Australian) and translated (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Canadian French) ABC versions were tested quantitatively for equivalence of meaning (≥4 assessors per country) and in bilingual cognitive interviews (three interviews per translation). Response patterns were assessed in surveys of adults aged 50+ years (N≥2000) in each country.
Main outcomes
Psychometric properties were evaluated through tests of validity and reliability, conceptual and cultural equivalence and systematic item analysis. Test–retest reliability used weighted-κ and intraclass correlations. Construction and validation of aggregate scores was by factor analysis for (1) beliefs about cancer outcomes, (2) beliefs about barriers to symptomatic presentation, and item summation for (3) awareness of cancer symptoms and (4) awareness of cancer risk factors.
The English ABC had acceptable test–retest reliability and content validity. International assessments of equivalence identified a small number of items where wording needed adjustment. Survey response patterns showed that items performed well in terms of difficulty and discrimination across countries except for awareness of cancer outcomes in Australia. Aggregate scores had consistent factor structures across countries.
The ABC is a reliable and valid international measure of cancer awareness and beliefs. The methods used to validate and harmonise the ABC may serve as a methodological guide in international survey research.
PMCID: PMC3547316  PMID: 23253874
early detection of cancer; cancer early diagnosis; validation studies; cross-cultural comparison; reliability and validity
6.  Promoting Early Presentation of Breast Cancer in Older Women: Implementing an Evidence-Based Intervention in Routine Clinical Practice 
Journal of Cancer Epidemiology  2012;2012:835167.
Background. Women over 70 with breast cancer have poorer one-year survival and present at a more advanced stage than younger women. Promoting early symptomatic presentation in older women may reduce stage cost effectively and is unlikely to lead to overdiagnosis. After examining efficacy in a randomised controlled trial, we piloted a brief health professional-delivered intervention to equip women to present promptly with breast symptoms, as an integral part of the final invited mammogram at age ~70, in the English National Health Service Breast Screening Programme. Methods. We trained mammographers, who then offered the intervention to older women in four breast screening services. We examined breast cancer awareness at baseline and one month in women receiving the intervention, and also in a service where the intervention was not offered. Results. We trained 27 mammographers to deliver the intervention confidently to a high standard. Breast cancer awareness increased 7-fold at one month in women receiving the intervention compared with 2-fold in the comparison service (odds ratio 15.2, 95% confidence interval 10.0 to 23.2). Conclusions. The PEP Intervention can be implemented in routine clinical practice with a potency similar to that achieved in a randomised controlled trial. It has the potential to reduce delay in diagnosis for breast cancer in older women.
PMCID: PMC3505655  PMID: 23213334
7.  Measuring the quality of MDT working: an observational approach 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:202.
Cancer multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) are established in many countries but little is known about how well they function. A core activity is regular MDT meetings (MDMs) where treatment recommendations are agreed. A mixed methods descriptive study was conducted to develop and test quality criteria for observational assessment of MDM performance calibrated against consensus from over 2000 MDT members about the “characteristics of an effective MDT”.
Eighteen of the 86 ‘Characteristics of Effective MDTs’ were considered relevant and feasible to observe. They collated to 15 aspects of MDT working covering four domains: the team (e.g. attendance, chairing, teamworking); infrastructure for meetings (venue, equipment); meeting organisation and logistics; and patient-centred clinical decision-making (patient-centredness, clarity of recommendations). Criteria for rating each characteristic from ‘very poor’ to ‘very good’ were derived from literature review, observing MDMs and expert input. Criteria were applied to 10 bowel cancer MDTs to assess acceptability and measure variation between and within teams. Feasibility and inter-rater reliability was assessed by comparing three observers.
Observational assessment was acceptable to teams and feasible to implement. Total scores from 29 to 50 (out of 58) highlighted wide diversity in quality between teams. Eight teams were rated either ‘very good/good’ or ‘very poor/poor’ for at least three domains demonstrating some internal consistency. ‘Very good’ ratings were most likely for attendance and administrative preparation, and least likely for patient-centredness of decision-making and prioritisation of complex cases. All except two characteristics had intra-class correlations of ≥0.50.
This observational tool (MDT-OARS) may contribute to the assessment of MDT performance. Further testing to confirm validity and reliability is required.
PMCID: PMC3489862  PMID: 22642614
Cancer; Multidisciplinary Communication; Interprofessional relations; Observation; Quality Indicators Health Care; Decision-making; Leadership; Health resources
8.  Benzo[1,2-b:4,5-b′]dithio­phene-4,8-dione 
The title mol­ecule, C10H4O2S2, is situated on a crystallographic center of inversion. In the crystal, weak hydrogen bonding contributes to the packing of the mol­ecules.
PMCID: PMC3344548  PMID: 22590310
9.  Postcesarean Thromboprophylaxis with Two Different Regimens of Bemiparin 
Objectives. To compare the effectiveness of postcesarean thromboprophylaxis with two different regimens of bemiparin. Material and Methods. The study included 646 women with cesarean delivery in our hospital within a 1-year period, randomly assigned to one of two groups for prophylaxis with 3500 IU bemiparin once daily for 5 days or 3500 IU bemiparin once daily for 10 days. Results. There was one case of pulmonary embolism (first day following cesarean). An additional risk factor was present in 98.52% of the women, most frequently emergency cesarean, anemia, or obesity. The only risk factors for thromboembolic disease significantly related to pulmonary thromboembolism were placental abruption and prematurity. There were no differences in thromboembolic events among the two thromboprophylaxis regimens. Conclusions. Cesarean-related thromboembolic events were reduced in our study population due to the thromboprophylactic measures taken. Thromboprophylaxis with 3500 IU bemiparin once daily for 5 days following cesarean was sufficient to avoid thromboembolic events.
PMCID: PMC3253471  PMID: 22242023
10.  The number of women who would need to be screened regularly by mammography to prevent one death from breast cancer 
Journal of Medical Screening  2011;18(4):210-212.
The number of women who would need to be screened regularly by mammography to prevent one death from breast cancer depends strongly on several factors, including the age at which regular screening starts, the period over which it continues, and the duration of follow-up after screening. Furthermore, more women would need to be INVITED for screening than would need to be SCREENED to prevent one death, since not all women invited attend for screening or are screened regularly. Failure to consider these important factors accounts for many of the major discrepancies between different published estimates. The randomised evidence indicates that, in high income countries, around one breast cancer death would be prevented in the long term for every 400 women aged 50–70 years regularly screened over a ten-year period.
PMCID: PMC3266234  PMID: 22184734
12.  Involving users in the design of a randomised controlled trial of an intervention to promote early presentation in breast cancer: qualitative study 
The purpose of this study was to explore women's views of the design of a large pragmatic cost-effectiveness randomised controlled trial of the policy of offering a health professional-delivered intervention to promote early presentation with breast symptoms in older women and thereby improve survival, with a view to informing protocol development. The trial will recruit over 100,000 healthy women aged 67+, and outcome data will be collected on those who develop breast cancer. The scale of the trial and the need for long-term follow-up presented a number of design challenges in relation to obtaining consent, ascertaining and contacting participants who developed breast cancer, and collecting outcome data.
Qualitative study involving 69 women participating in 7 focus groups and 17 in-depth interviews. 15 women had a previous diagnosis of breast cancer and 54 did not.
The women held strong views and had a good understanding of the rationale of the design of clinical trials. The women recognised that in a very large trial with long-term follow-up it was necessary to incorporate design features to make the trial feasible and efficient. Most strikingly, they supported the idea of opt-out consent and identifying women with breast cancer using routine datasets.
This model of user involvement engaged women well with the design challenges of the trial and led to improvements to the protocol. The study strengthens the case for user involvement, in particular through focus groups and in-depth interviews, in the design of trials.
PMCID: PMC3023725  PMID: 21176229
13.  A pre-post test evaluation of the impact of the PELICAN MDT-TME Development Programme on the working lives of colorectal cancer team members 
The PELICAN Multidisciplinary Team Total Mesorectal Excision (MDT-TME) Development Programme aimed to improve clinical outcomes for rectal cancer by educating colorectal cancer teams in precision surgery and related aspects of multidisciplinary care. The Programme reached almost all colorectal cancer teams across England. We took the opportunity to assess the impact of participating in this novel team-based Development Programme on the working lives of colorectal cancer team members.
The impact of participating in the programme on team members' self-reported job stress, job satisfaction and team performance was assessed in a pre-post course study. 333/568 (59%) team members, from the 75 multidisciplinary teams who attended the final year of the Programme, completed questionnaires pre-course, and 6-8 weeks post-course.
Across all team members, the main sources of job satisfaction related to working in multidisciplinary teams; whilst feeling overloaded was the main source of job stress. Surgeons and clinical nurse specialists reported higher levels of job satisfaction than team members who do not provide direct patient care, whilst MDT coordinators reported the lowest levels of job satisfaction and job stress. Both job stress and satisfaction decreased after participating in the Programme for all team members. There was a small improvement in team performance.
Participation in the Development Programme had a mixed impact on the working lives of team members in the immediate aftermath of attending. The decrease in team members' job stress may reflect the improved knowledge and skills conferred by the Programme. The decrease in job satisfaction may be the consequence of being unable to apply these skills immediately in clinical practice because of a lack of required infrastructure and/or equipment. In addition, whilst the Programme raised awareness of the challenges of teamworking, a greater focus on tackling these issues may have improved working lives further.
PMCID: PMC2914033  PMID: 20587062
14.  Depression and anxiety in women with early breast cancer: five year observational cohort study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2005;330(7493):702.
Objective To examine the prevalence of, and risk factors for, depression and anxiety in women with early breast cancer in the five years after diagnosis.
Design Observational cohort study.
Setting NHS breast clinic, London.
Participants 222 women with early breast cancer: 170 (77%) provided complete interview data up to either five years after diagnosis or recurrence.
Main outcome measures Prevalence of clinically important depression and anxiety (structured psychiatric interview with standardised diagnostic criteria) and clinical and patient risk factors, including stressful life experiences (Bedford College life events and difficulties schedule).
Results Nearly 50% of the women with early breast cancer had depression, anxiety, or both in the year after diagnosis, 25% in the second, third, and fourth years, and 15% in the fifth year. Point prevalence was 33% at diagnosis, falling to 15% after one year. 45% of those with recurrence experienced depression, anxiety, or both within three months of the diagnosis. Previous psychological treatment predicted depression, anxiety, or both in the period around diagnosis (one month before diagnosis to four months after diagnosis). Longer term depression and anxiety, were associated with previous psychological treatment, lack of an intimate confiding relationship, younger age, and severely stressful non-cancer life experiences. Clinical factors were not associated with depression and anxiety, at any time. Lack of intimate confiding support also predicted more protracted episodes of depression and anxiety.
Conclusion Increased levels of depression, anxiety, or both in the first year after a diagnosis of early breast cancer highlight the need for dedicated service provision during this time. Psychological interventions for women with breast cancer who remain disease free should take account of the broader social context in which the cancer occurs, with a focus on improving social support.
PMCID: PMC555631  PMID: 15695497
15.  Stressful life experiences and risk of relapse of breast cancer: observational cohort study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;324(7351):1420.
To confirm, using an observational cohort design, the relation between severely stressful life experiences and relapse of breast cancer found in a previous case-control study.
Prospective follow up for five years of a cohort of women newly diagnosed as having breast cancer, collecting data on stressful life experiences, depression, and biological prognostic factors.
NHS breast clinic, London; 1991-9.
A consecutive series of women aged under 60 newly diagnosed as having a primary operable breast tumour. 202/222 (91%) eligible women participated in the first life experiences interview. 170 (77%) provided complete interview data either up to 5 years after diagnosis or to recurrence.
Main outcome measure
Recurrence of disease.
We controlled for biological prognostic factors (lymph node infiltration and tumour histology), and found no increased risk of recurrence in women who had had one or more severely stressful life experiences in the year before diagnosis compared with women who did not (hazard ratio 1.01, 95% confidence interval 0.58 to 1.74, P=0.99). Women who had had one or more severely stressful life experiences in the 5 years after diagnosis had a lower risk of recurrence (0.52, 0.29 to 0.95, P=0.03) than those who did not.
These data do not confirm an earlier finding from a case-control study that severely stressful life experiences increase the risk of recurrence of breast cancer. Differences in case control and prospective methods may explain the contradictory results. We took the prospective study as the more robust, and the results suggest that women with breast cancer need not fear that stressful experiences will precipitate the return of their disease.
What is already known on this topicWomen with apparently similar tumours at the time of presentation with breast cancer differ considerably in their disease-free survival and overall survivalSuch differences in outcome may well be explained by host and environmental factors, which could include psychological and social variablesData on the relation between severely stressful life experiences and cancer progression have been contradictoryWhat this study addsWomen who have a severely stressful life experience in the year before being diagnosed with breast cancer, or in the five years afterwards, do not seem to be at increased risk of developing a recurrence of the diseaseWomen with breast cancer need not fear that stressful experiences will precipitate the return of their disease.
PMCID: PMC115851  PMID: 12065263
18.  Ethnic disparities in knowledge of cancer screening programmes in the UK 
Journal of Medical Screening  2010;17(3):125-131.
The aim of the study was to examine awareness of the three National Cancer Screening Programmes (breast, cervical, bowel) among white and ethnic minority groups in the UK.
Data were from two surveys in which the screening questions were added: (i) the Office of National Statistics (ONS) Opinions Survey, carried out in September and October 2008; and (ii) the Ethnibus™ survey of the main ethnic minority groups in England, conducted in October and November 2008.
The ONS sample consisted of 2216 adults selected using stratified probability sampling to obtain a population-representative sample. The Ethnibus™ sample was obtained by quota sampling and included 1500 adults from the six largest ethnic minority groups in England (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Caribbean, African and Chinese). Participants completed questions on awareness of cancer screening programmes as part of the wider Cancer Awareness Measure (CAM) in home-based, face-to-face interviews.
Awareness of breast and cervical cancer screening was high in the white ONS participants (89% breast and 84% cervical), lower in the ONS ethnic minority sample (74% for both breast and cervical) and lowest in the Ethnibus™ sample (69% breast and 66% cervical). Ethnic disparities persisted after controlling for age, gender and occupational group. In both groups, knowledge of breast and cervical screening was lower among men and more socioeconomically deprived groups. Awareness of the new bowel cancer screening programme was less than 30% in both white and ethnic minority groups.
Ethnic disparities in knowledge of breast and cervical cancer screening should be addressed. Strategies to engage ethnic minority and socioeconomically deprived groups in bowel cancer screening should be instigated to avoid the emergence of disparities.
PMCID: PMC4116226  PMID: 20956722

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