Disease-related factors affecting timely lymphoma diagnosis

Recent evidence indicates that lymphoma diagnosis is often delayed, but understanding of the issues which influence these delays are incomplete. This qualitative study explore patients’ and their relatives’ perceptions of disease-related factors affecting time to diagnosis of Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Interviews were conducted with 35 patients and 15 of their of their relatives. The interviewees described how they, and some healthcare professionals, were not familiar with lymphoma and seldom considered it a likely explanation for their symptoms. Many reported that their symptoms were highly variable, frequently non-specific and often initially thought to be associated with benign, self-limiting causes. Additionally, blood tests and other investigations, while able to detect abnormalities, did not reliably indicate malignancy. This study demonstrates the complex characteristics of lymphoma which can prolong time to diagnosis, often despite significant effect by the patients, their relatives and GPs to expedite the process.

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