Comorbidity affects both treatment choices and outcomes in cancer patients. There is little Australian data on comorbidity in patients presenting with newly diagnosed cancers. Existing data has largely been derived from surveys within the general population or inferred from hospital or prescribing records. The aim of this study is to present data on patient reported comorbidities at the time patients first present to a general oncology service.
Since 2016 patients presenting to the Andrew Love Cancer Centre in Geelong have been asked to fill out an in-house developed personal health history questionnaire (PHHQ) which is then scanned into the medical record. Patients through to July 2018 had comorbidity data entered into the ARIA EMR and these patients form the basis of this study.
There were 2710 patients with comorbidity data entered into the EMR. There were a total of 212 different self reported comorbidities entered, although 132 of these were reported only once. The 5 most common comorbidities reported were hypertension (42%), mental health (27% - usually anxiety and/or depression), hyperlipidaemia (24%), osteoarthritis (21%) and varicose veins (16%). The median number of comorbidities for all patients was 3 and was higher in older patients. No significant medical history was reported by 7% of patients. There was variation in comorbidity patterns in line with gender (e.g. males were less likely to report a history of mental health issues or osteoarthritis) and the presenting cancer diagnosis (e.g. lung cancer patients were more likely report a history of COPD/emphysema or ischaemic heart disease).
Patients presenting to a general oncology service self report a range of comorbidities. Comorbidity increases with age and patterns differ by characteristics such as gender and cancer diagnosis. Documentation of patient population comorbidity may assist in service planning and optimisation of patient care pathways.