Communicating cancer risk in the primary care consultation when using a cancer risk assessment tool: Qualitative study with service users and practitioners

Delayed cancer diagnosis can negatively affect treatment options, survival, quality of life and costs. To tackle delayed cancer diagnosis, QCancer, a cancer risk assessment tool was developed to help detect cancer risk in symptomatic individuals presenting to primary care. Early detection of cancer risk could lead to quicker referral for investigations, diagnosis and treatment – addressing late diagnosis of cancer. However, it is not clear how best cancer risk can be communicated to patients when using a cancer risk assessment tool. Through interviews and focus groups, this study explored the perspectives of service users and primary care practitioners on communicating cancer risk to patients when using the cancer risk assessment tool, QCancer. Four themes emerged with regards to improving communication of cancer risk information; (1) personalizing risk communication; (2) involving patients in the use of the tool; (3) sharing risk information openly; (4) providing sufficient time when using the tool during consultations. Communicating cancer risk information is complex and difficult, this study identified facets which could be improved to better communication with patients involving cancer risk in a primary care setting.

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