Communication strategies for rare cancers: A systematic review protocol

Catherine Bell, Katie Kerr, Kerry Moore, Charlene McShane, Lesley Anderson, Amy Jayne McKnight, Helen McAneney* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Rare cancers comprise almost a quarter of all cancers in Europe, and patients generally have poorer outcomes than those suffering from more common cancers. This is attributed in part to a general lack of knowledge and awareness of rare cancers. This review aims to examine the communication strategies being used throughout the world to inform on rare cancers and to highlight any opportunities for improvement. Methods: A systematic review of literature published in English prior to November 2018 will be conducted, screening articles from the electronic databases MEDLINE, PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, PsycINFO, CINAHL Plus and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Grey literature databases (GreyLit, OpenGrey) will also be searched in order to screen for any unpublished works. As well as primary literature, reference lists will be examined via forward and reverse citation screening. The review will be reported using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA). Titles and abstracts will first be examined for eligibility, with remaining studies undergoing a full-text screening before being included in the final review. Individual studies will be screened for bias, and a meta-analysis performed provided there is enough data. If insufficient homogenous literature exists, a narrative summary of the literature will be produced. Discussion: Despite the broad topic and width of study type that will be considered, this review hopes to provide a reflective summary of the communication strategies available for people living with and working with rare cancer. It aims to reveal any gaps in the resources available, to contribute to the long-term improvement of diagnosis and management of rare cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102
Number of pages6
JournalSystematic reviews
Early online date23 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

CB is a summer student being funded by the Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast.

Availability of data and materials
Data was obtained from peer-reviewed publications which are available in the public domain and may be subject to copyright. The datasets used and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


  • Carers
  • Communication
  • Healthcare professional
  • Information
  • Patients
  • Rare Cancer
  • Strategies


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