BACKGROUND: Pancreatic cancer has the worst survival rate among all cancers. Almost 70% of patients in the UK were diagnosed at Stage IV. AIM: This study aimed to investigate the symptoms associated with the diagnoses of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (PNEN), and comparatively characterise the symptomatology between the two tumour types to inform earlier diagnosis. DESIGN AND SETTING: A nested case-control study in primary care was conducted using data from the QResearch® database. Patients aged ≥25 years and diagnosed with PDAC or PNEN during 2000 to 2019 were included as cases. Up to 10 controls from the same general practice were matched with each case by age, sex, and calendar year using incidence density sampling. METHOD: Conditional logistic regression was used to investigate the association between the 42 shortlisted symptoms and the diagnoses of PDAC and (or) PNEN in different timeframes relative to the index date, adjusting for patients' sociodemographic characteristics, lifestyle, and relevant comorbidities. RESULTS: A total of 23 640 patients were identified as diagnosed with PDAC and 596 with PNEN. Of the symptoms identified, 23 were significantly associated with PDAC, and nine symptoms with PNEN. The two alarm symptoms for both tumours were jaundice and gastrointestinal bleeding. The two newly identified symptoms for PDAC were thirst and dark urine. The risk of unintentional weight loss may be longer than 2 years before the diagnosis of PNEN. CONCLUSION: PDAC and PNEN have overlapping symptom profiles. The QCancer® (pancreas) risk prediction model could be updated by including the newly identified symptoms and comorbidities, which could help GPs identify high-risk patients for timely investigation in primary care.
Br J Gen Pract
early diagnosis, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), pancreatic neoplasms, pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (PNEN), primary health care, symptom