HealthDay News — Cancer diagnosis is less likely in patients not attending referral appointments for suspected cancer, but these patients have worse early mortality outcomes than attending patients, according to a study published online Sept. 11 in Cancer Epidemiology.

Rebecca Sheridan, from the University of York in the United Kingdom, and colleagues assessed data from 109,433 U.K. adults registered at 105 general practices, referred to a cancer center within a large National Health Service hospital trust (April 2009 to December 2016) on the “Two Week Wait” pathway, which aims to ensure patients with suspected cancer are seen within two weeks of referral.

The researchers found that 5.2% of patients did not attend their appointment. Patient-level factors (including younger and older age, male gender, greater deprivation, suspected cancer site, earlier year of referral, and greater distance to the hospital) predicted nonattendance over practice-level factors (such as greater deprivation, lower Quality and Outcomes Framework score, lower cancer conversion rate, and lower cancer detection rate). Nearly one in 10 patients were diagnosed with cancer within six months of referral, including 9.8 percent of attending patients and 5.6 percent of nonattending patients, and nearly one in five of these patients (19.6 percent) died within 12 months of diagnosis. Early mortality risk was seen in 31.3 percent of nonattenders and 19.2 percent of attending patients.

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“Nonattendance at urgent referral appointments for suspected cancer involves a minority of patients but happens in predictable groups,” the authors write.

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