Exploring symptoms and help-seeking triggers in upper gastrointestinal cancer patients | Napin Karnchanachari

The SYMPTOM-UGI study explores factors impacting symptom appraisal and help-seeking in oesophago-gastric and pancreatic cancer patients, which may lead to shorter or longer times to diagnoses.

7 October 2020

Research Assistant, Cancer in Primary Care
University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research and Department of General Practice 

In 2014 1,718 Victorians were diagnosed with and 1,276 died from gastro-oesophageal or pancreatic cancer. Five-year survival for pancreatic cancer in Australia is 7% and for gastric cancer 27%, reflecting presentation of these cancers at a relatively advanced stage at diagnosis. The time it takes for both patients to seek help and be diagnosed for these types of cancer are longer than other common cancers such as lung or prostate cancer. Patients with upper GI cancer may be symptomatic for many months before presentation. Importantly, patients may not deem their symptoms as serious and may attribute them to normal bodily variation, further compounding their reluctance to seek medical help.

This mixed-method study explored patient pathways preceding diagnosis. This study demonstrated the feasibility of using this approach, and the potential to apply these methods to other cohorts. Overall, this study has provided evidence on factors which effect timely diagnosis in upper GI and pancreatic cancer patients.

Napin (Pinn) Karnchanachari is a Research Assistant with the Cancer in Primary Care Team, led by Professor Jon Emery. She has a background in genetics, with a passion for creating impactful change in healthcare by translating novel research into real world use. She began working with the Cancer in Primary Care team as an intern whilst finishing her bachelor’s degree and continued working full time at the completion of her degree. Next year, she will be attending the University of Cambridge to further her studies in a Masters of Therapeutic Sciences. Pinn’s hometown is Bangkok, Thailand, and one day she hopes to bring her knowledge and experiences home to improve healthcare in Thailand.