A Patient Perspective: Identifying and Understanding the Barriers Associated with the Diagnostic Delay of Lung Cancer

Lucy Louise Elizabeth Hill, Gareth Collier, *Rachel Elizabeth Gemine

Hywel Dda University Health Board, Llanelli, UK
*Correspondence to Rachel.E.Gemine@wales.nhs.uk

Disclosure: The authors have declared no conflicts of interest.
Received: 16.01.17 Accepted: 18.09.17
Citation: EMJ Respir. 2017;5[1]:92-98.


Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide and is a fundamental health problem in the UK. Mortality rates are much higher in the UK than other European countries, with overall 5-year survival rates in England and Wales currently as low as 7%. Reducing diagnostic delays may increase the proportion of early stage lung cancer and improve survival, yet the literature surrounding these issues suggests that many people continue to wait a considerable time before presenting symptoms to a clinician. To gain an in-depth understanding into the factors that may influence this delay, this review aims to explore some of the social and psychological barriers that patients face in seeking medical attention for lung cancer symptoms. Likewise, with the majority of lung cancer cases strongly linked to tobacco use, the impact of smoking status and whether it has an effect on an individual’s pathway to diagnosis is imperative to this review. The evidence found suggests that delays in symptom reporting are attributed to low perceptions of risk and a difficulty in recognising lung cancer symptoms early, especially when other comorbidities are present. Additionally, the de-normalisation of smoking appears to have confused understanding regarding risk and reinforced blame and stigma, which ultimately hinders help-seeking behaviours. Future research is thus required to develop strategies and interventions that raise awareness of lung cancer symptoms and empower people to engage in help-seeking behaviours.

This article is made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0 License.

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