Patients with persistent unexplained swollen neck glands should be referred for specialist investigations, according to two reports from University of Exeter Medical School, in the United Kingdom. Such referrals could save thousands of death each year from lymphoma.
Latest available figures from 1995 to 1999 show that more than 6,320 deaths were avoidable during that period. In addition, more than 40% of patients had visited their GP with symptoms three or more times before being referred for cancer investigations.
Both reports used data from UK primary care patient records from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD), focusing on patients older than 40 years.
The two reports produced similar results. The researchers conclude that the risk that persistent swollen glands are indicative of cancer is higher than previously thought, and primary care providers should consider referring these patients to a specialist earlier.
Referring patients with unexplained swollen neck glands for specialist investigations could help to avoid some of the thousands of deaths each year from lymphoma, a type of cancer.