Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A study looking at how long it takes for people to be given their cancer diagnosis (C-SIM)
This study looked at a way of finding out how long it takes for people to be diagnosed with cancer. This study was supported by Cancer Research UK.
Researchers are trying to learn more about why there might be delays in diagnosing cancer. They want to find out whether delays are due to people ignoring symptoms and not going to see their GP. Or if people do go to their GP, but there are delays in doctors referring people to specialists, or for tests.
As a first step, the researchers in this study wanted to develop and test a way of finding out how long it takes for people to get their diagnosis.
Summary of results
The research team developed and tested a way of finding out how long it takes for people to get their diagnosis.
The tool tested in this study is called the cancer symptom interval measure, or C-SIM. The people taking part had a number of different cancers including breast cancer, bowel cancer and lung cancer.
In the first part of this study, 10 people filled out the form. They fed back their thoughts to the research team who then made some changes to it.
In the second part of this study, 201 people filled out the form. They were put into 1 of 2 groups at random, and
- 93 people filled out the form by themselves
- 108 people filled out the form with a trained researcher
The C-SIM tool asked them when they first noticed symptoms, and when they first saw the doctor or had tests. Some questions related to their specific type of cancer, and some were more general for everyone.
The team found that those who filled out the form with a researcher completed more answers.
They also measured anxiety levels. They found that patients who filled out the form with the help of a researcher were less anxious than those who had filled it out on their own.
The research team also compared the dates some people gave in the questionnaires with the dates in their GP records. They found that for those who gave an exact date for their appointment, nearly 9 out of 10 (86%) were the same as the GP records. And for those who gave a rough date for their appointment, over 6 out of 10 (62%) were the same as the GP records.
The research team concluded that C-SIM was a useful tool. They are happy for it to be used in future studies looking at how and when people are diagnosed with cancer. They recommend that people fill out the form with the help of a researcher if possible.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.
Dr Richard Neal
Cancer Research UK
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/08/047.