Cancer charity, CLIC Sargent, is urging the government to improve the training of GPs and other medics in spotting signs of cancer in children. The call comes after a survey of parents whose children have been diagnosed with cancer revealed that 42% of those parents felt that GPs ignored their child’s health concerns, with 34% believing that the delay in diagnosis had an impact on their child’s prognosis.
Whilst cancer in children is rare, with some GPs only seeing a handful of cases in their career, around 3,800 children are diagnosed each year in the UK. 44% of those asked have said that they had to make multiple trips to the GP and hospital before they were eventually diagnosed, with one participant saying that it took a visit to an entirely different GP to get the 2 week cancer referral.
Kate Lee, Chief Executive of CLIC Sargent, has said
It is absolutely vital that medical professionals including GPs are confident and skilled in listening and talking to children, young people and parents – and responding to their concerns. That’s why we’re calling for health education bodies to make this a core element of professional training”.
1,000 GPs also took part in the survey, with 46% responding that they needed more training to help with diagnosis of cancer in young people.
The charity is also calling for more research into the effects of delay in diagnosis of cancer in young people, as most of the data available is in relation to adults; concluding that early diagnosis is essential to improve the chance of survival.
The announcement follows a recent change to the NICE guidelines on cancer referrals, which lowers the threshold that a patient’s symptoms have to meet before a referral is required. In theory, GPs should therefore be more alert to potential symptoms at an earlier stage and refer patients where previously they may have waiting a week or two to see if there is any improvement.
If you or anyone you know wishes to discuss a possible misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis of cancer, contact our specialist medical negligence team on 0800 316 8892.