Pathways to diagnosis of a second primary cancer: protocol for a mixed methods systematic review

Lovney Kanguru (Lead / Corresponding author), Annemieke P. Bikker, Debbie Cavers, Karen Barnett, David H. Brewster, David Weller, Christine Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction As cancer survivors continue to live longer, the incidence of second primary cancers (SPCs) will also rise. Relatively little is understood about the diagnostic pathway for SPCs, how people appraise, interpret symptoms and seek help for a second different cancer and the experiences (including challenges) of healthcare providers relating to SPCs. This study aims to systematically appraise and synthesise the literature on the pathways to diagnosis of an SPC and the associated patient and healthcare provider experiences.
Methods The approach taken includes systematic searches of published and unpublished literature without any date or language restrictions. MEDLINE, Embase, CAB Abstracts, MEDLINE In-Process and non-indexed citations, PsycINFO, Epub Ahead of Print, In-Process and other non-indexed citations, Ovid MEDLINE Daily, CINAHL, ASSIA, Sociological Abstracts, Web of Science, PROSPERO and grey literature will be searched to identify observational, systematic reviews, mixed methods and qualitative studies of interest. Titles, abstracts and full texts will be screened against the inclusion–exclusion criteria by at least two reviewers independently. Relevant outcomes of interest and study and population characteristics will be extracted. Synthesis will be used guided by the Pathways to Treatment model and the Olesen model of time intervals.
Ethics and dissemination Ethical approval is not required. This systematic review will provide a deeper understanding of the complex and heterogeneous diagnostic pathways of SPCs, while identifying common themes across the diagnostic interval, routes to diagnosis and patient and healthcare provider experiences. These findings will help provide a nuanced picture of the diagnostic pathway for SPCs that may inform policy and consistent practice. In particular, approaches to early diagnosis for an SPC; including the timing and reasons behind the decision by the patient to seek care, the challenges faced by healthcare providers, and in the development of future interventions to reduce the delay in patient time-to-presentation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number017929
Number of pages6
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2017


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