Majority of cancer patients referred by GPs after first visit
Over 80% of patients with suspected cancer are referred by their GP after just one or two consultations.
A recent study reported by the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21372792) has sampled over 13,000 cancer patients and revealed that the overwhelming majority were referred to a specialist after their first trip to the GP with symptoms.
The study suggests that GPs are becoming more attuned to the signs and symptoms of cancer and are making prompt referrals. Earlier diagnosis and treatment will lead to a better outcome, so this data is most encouraging.
The stats suggest that measures adopted by the NHS and NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) in the past ten years are being implemented by GPs, who are the first port of call when patients develop symptoms. The NICE two-week cancer referral guidelines ensure that patients with suspected cancer are seen by a specialist unit at hospital within two weeks of the GP making the referral. This fast-track system ensures that diagnosis is made and treatment instigated within just a few weeks.
Awareness amongst GPs has increased. They are detecting some cancers such as breast and melanoma (skin cancer) on the first examination. Other more subtle cancers with less specific symptoms (like stomach and lung cancer), can take GPs several consultations before making a referral.
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