Early detection of cancer serves an important strategy for cancer control, but its uptake rate remains relatively limited. Nurse-led interventions may have potential benefits for the early detection of cancer, but the evidence remains unclear.
Synthesise the evidence on the impact of nurse-led interventions on early cancer detection. The primary outcome was early cancer detection uptake rate. Secondary outcomes were cancer knowledge, early detection beliefs, diagnosed precancerous lesions and early-stage cancers.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trails.
Eight English language databases (British Nursing Index, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, CINAHL Complete, EMBASE, Ovid Emcare, Medline, Scopus, Web of Science Core Collection) and three Chinese language databases (Chinese Biomedical Literature Databases, China Journal Net, and Wanfang Data) were searched from inception date to September 2019. Grey literature and reference lists of included studies were also examined.
Two reviewers independently assessed eligibility, extracted data and evaluated methodological quality using the Cochrane risk of bias (RoB 2.0) tool. Meta-analyses and descriptive analyses were used. Subgroup analyses were conducted for study settings and intervention types.
Ten studies examined the effects of nurse-led interventions, including education, patient reminders, counselling, and patient navigation, on early detection of breast or cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer. Nurse-led interventions improved the uptake rates of mammography [risk ratio (RR) = 1.97; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.17-3.33; p = 0.01], clinical breast examination (RR = 2.16; 95% CI: 1.02-4.59; p = 0.05), regular breast self-examination (RR = 2.01; 95% CI: 1.54-2.63; p < 0.001), and colonoscopy (RR = 1.90; 95% CI: 1.57-2.30; p < 0.001), but not of faecal blood occult tests. Subgroup analyses showed significantly improved mammography and clinical breast examination uptake rates for interventions conducted at health centres, and that patient navigation had better effects on improving colonoscopy uptake rates than did counselling. The intervention also improved cancer knowledge, early detection beliefs, and cases of detected precancerous lesions.
Nurse-led interventions may improve early cancer detection uptake rates, cancer knowledge, early detection beliefs, and cases of detected precancerous lesions. The effects of nurse-led interventions conducted in home settings on improving mammography and clinical breast examination uptake rates may need further exploration. Patient navigation may be superior to counselling in improving colonoscopy uptake rates. Social media may be an option for delivering early cancer detection guidance, but needs to be further explored. “Tweetable abstract”: Nurse-led interventions have potential effects on promoting early detection of cancer.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Ltd.