Understanding symptom appraisal and help-seeking in people with symptoms suggestive of pancreatic cancer: a qualitative study

Given the poor survival rates and non-specific symptoms of pancreatic cancer this study has qualitatively explored the barriers and facilitators around symptom appraisal and help-seeking among patients referred to secondary care for symptoms suggestive of pancreatic cancer. Twenty-six interviews, 13 cancer and 13 non-cancer patients, were conducted. Time from first symptoms to first presentation to healthcare ranged from 1-270 days. Most patients were able to recall when they first noticed their symptom/s and when they first went to their GP. Initial symptom appraisal usually began with irregular, non-specific symptoms such as tiredness or appetite changes. The triggers for help seeking included a change or worsening in symptoms, in particular pain was often the ‘tipping point’. This is the first study to investigate symptom appraisal and help-seeking in patients recently referred to hospital with symptoms suggestive of pancreatic cancer. These findings can help inform GP education approaches to help promote timely investigation and referral.

 

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