Assessing how routes to diagnosis vary by the age of patients with cancer: a nationwide register-based cohort study in Denmark

B. Danckert, N. L. Christensen, A. Z. Falborg, H. Frederiksen, G. Lyratzopoulos, S. McPhail, A. F. Pedersen, J. Ryg, L. A. Thomsen, P. Vedsted, H. Jensen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Older patients with cancer have poorer prognosis compared to younger patients. Moreover, prognosis is related to how cancer is identified, and where in the healthcare system patients present, i.e. routes to diagnosis (RtD). We investigated whether RtD varied by patients’ age. Methods: This population-based national cohort study used Danish registry data. Patients were categorized into age groups and eight mutually exclusive RtD. We employed multinomial logistic regressions adjusted for sex, region, diagnosis year, cohabitation, education, income, immigration status and comorbidities. Screened and non-screened patients were analysed separately. Results: The study included 137,876 patients. Both younger and older patients with cancer were less likely to get diagnosed after a cancer patient pathways referral from primary care physician compared to middle-aged patients. Older patients were more likely to get diagnosed via unplanned admission, death certificate only, and outpatient admission compared to younger patients. The patterns were similar across comorbidity levels. Conclusions: RtD varied by age groups, and middle-aged patients were the most likely to get diagnosed after cancer patient pathways with referral from primary care. Emphasis should be put on raising clinicians’ awareness of cancer being the underlying cause of symptoms in both younger patients and in older patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number906
JournalBMC Cancer
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 19. Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Cancer
  • Denmark
  • Neoplasm (MeSH)
  • “Early Detection of Cancer” (MeSH)
  • Prognosis
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Denmark/epidemiology
  • Neoplasms/diagnosis
  • Registries
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies


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