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10.04.18

GP access to cancer diagnostic tools lowest in Europe

GPs need better access to diagnostic tools in the community in order to appropriately refer patients for cancer diagnosis, according to the a recent study.

The study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, which found that patients aged over 60 years old presenting to primary care with weight loss are at a higher risk of having cancer than those without reported weight loss.

Dr Richard Roope, clinical lead for cancer at Royal College of GPs (RCGP), explained that there are currently no clinical guidelines to support GPs in investigating patients who present with weight loss, without other symptoms, in a cancer setting.

“These important findings present strong evidence of the correlation between significant unexplained weight loss and many cancers, and should certainly be taken on board as clinical guidelines for GPs and healthcare professionals are updated and developed,” he said.

The RCGP has agreed with the study’s recommendations for GPs to have better access to diagnostic tools so that patients can be appropriately referred to either rule out or confirm a cancer diagnosis.

According to Roope, UK GPs currently have the lowest access to these tools in Europe.

“We hope the pilot of ‘one stop’ cancer clinics, announced last week by NHS England, in addition to the roll-out of the Faster Diagnosis Standard programme, will be a step to achieving this across the country,” he added.

Top image: Gareth Fuller, PA Wire

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