BMJ Open 3:e002861 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-002861
  • Health services research
    • Research

Gender inequalities in the promptness of diagnosis of bladder and renal cancer after symptomatic presentation: evidence from secondary analysis of an English primary care audit survey

  1. Gregory P Rubin4
  1. 1Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Cambridge Centre for Health Services Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  2. 2National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN), London, UK
  3. 3North Wales Centre for Primary Care Research, College of Health and Behavioural Sciences, Bangor University, Wrexham, UK
  4. 4Wolfson Research Institute, School of Medicine and Health, University of Durham, Queen's Campus, University Boulevard, Stockton-on-Tees, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Georgios Lyratzopoulos; gl290{at}
  • Received 11 March 2013
  • Accepted 29 April 2013
  • Published 24 June 2013


Objectives To explore whether women experience greater delays in the diagnosis of bladder and renal cancer when first presenting to a general practitioner with symptoms caused by those cancers and potential reasons for such gender inequalities.

Design Prospective national audit survey of cancer diagnosis.

Setting English primary care (2009–2010).

Participants 920 patients with bladder and 398 patients with renal cancer (252 (27%) and 165 (42%), respectively, were women).

Primary and secondary outcome measures Proportion of patients with three or more pre-referral consultations; number of days from first presentation to referral; proportion of patients who presented with haematuria and proportion of patients investigated in primary care.

Results Women required three or more prereferral consultations more often than men (27% (95% CI 21% to 33%) vs 11% (9% to 14%) for bladder (p<0.001); and 30% (22% to 39%) vs 18% (13% to 25%) for renal cancer (p=0.025)) and had a greater number of days from presentation to referral. In multivariable analysis (adjusting for age, haematuria status and use of primary care-led investigations), being a woman was independently associated with higher odds of three or more pre-referral consultations (OR=3.29 (2.06 to 5.25, p<0.001) for bladder cancer; and OR=1.90 (1.06 to 3.42, p=0.031) for renal cancer). Although presentation with haematuria was associated with more timely diagnosis of bladder cancer, gender inequalities did not vary by haematuria status for either cancer (p=0.18 for bladder and p=0.27 for renal). Each year in the UK, approximately 700 women with either bladder or renal cancer experience a delayed diagnosis because of their gender, of whom more than a quarter (197, or 28%) present with haematuria.

Conclusions There are notable gender inequalities in the timeliness of diagnosis of urological cancers. There is a need to both reinforce existing guidelines on haematuria investigation and develop new diagnostic decision aids and tests for patients who present without haematuria.

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