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Quality of the diagnostic process in patients presenting with symptoms suggestive of bladder or kidney cancer: a systematic review.

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van Melle, Marije 
Singh, Hardeep 
Hamilton, Willie 
Lyratzopoulos, Georgios  ORCID logo


OBJECTIVES: In urological cancers, sex disparity exists for survival, with women doing worse than men. Suboptimal evaluation of presenting symptoms may contribute. DESIGN: We performed a systematic review examining factors affecting the quality of the diagnostic process of patients presenting with symptoms of bladder or kidney cancer. DATA SOURCES: We searched Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Library from 1 January 2000 to 13 June 2019. ELIGIBLE CRITERIA: We focused on one of the six domains of quality of healthcare: timeliness, and examined the quality of the diagnostic process more broadly, by assessing whether guideline-concordant history, examination, tests and referrals were performed. Studies describing the factors that affect the timeliness or quality of the assessment of urinary tract infections, haematuria and lower urinary tract symptoms in the context of bladder or kidney cancer, were included. DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS: Data extraction and quality assessment were independently performed by two authors. Due to the heterogeneity of study design and outcomes, the results could not be pooled. A narrative synthesis was performed. RESULTS: 28 studies met review criteria, representing 583 636 people from 9 high-income countries. Studies were based in primary care (n=8), specialty care (n=12), or both (n=8). Up to two-thirds of patients with haematuria received no further evaluation in the 6 months after their initial visit. Urinary tract infections, nephrolithiasis and benign prostatic conditions before cancer diagnosis were associated with diagnostic delay. Women were more likely to experience diagnostic delay than men. Patients who first saw a urologist were less likely to experience delayed evaluation and cancer diagnosis. CONCLUSIONS: Women, and patients with non-cancerous urological diagnoses just prior to their cancer diagnosis, were more likely to experience lower quality diagnostic processes. Risk prediction tools, and improving guideline ambiguity, may improve outcomes and reduce sex disparity in survival for these cancers.



health and safety, primary care, quality in health care, urological tumours, Critical Pathways, Delayed Diagnosis, Diagnostic Techniques, Urological, Guideline Adherence, Hematuria, Humans, Kidney Neoplasms, Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms, Practice Guidelines as Topic, Primary Health Care, Process Assessment, Health Care, Referral and Consultation, Sex Factors, Symptom Assessment, Time Factors, Urinary Bladder Neoplasms, Urinary Tract Infections, Urology

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BMJ Open

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Wellcome doctoral fellowship funded