Patient testing needs to be based in evidence, says College

Publication date: 17 January 2018

Responding to the All-Party Parliamentary Group's report on blood cancer care, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

Responding to the All-Party Parliamentary Group's report on blood cancer care, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

"GPs understand that timely diagnosis of cancer leads to better outcomes for patients – and the latest data shows that over 75% of all cancer cases are referred by GPs after just one or two consultations.

"This is really good news, particularly considering, as this report recognises with blood cancer, how difficult identifying symptoms can be in primary care given that a GP, on average, will see less than one case of blood cancer every year.

"The term blood cancer is used to cover a range of conditions including leukaemias, lymphomas and myeloma; leukaemia is usually picked up through one of the tests that GPs order very frequently - a full blood count. But each type of blood cancer can present in a varied way, and GPs will base their decisions around what diagnostic testing is most appropriate on the symptoms being displayed by, and the unique circumstances potentially affecting, the patient in front of us.

"Any decision to pursue opportunistic testing must not be undertaken lightly as GPs need a good scientific evidence base before they order any investigations.

"What is certainly needed for GPs to continue doing a good job at identifying any cancers in a timely way, is better access to diagnostic tools in the community, so that we can appropriately investigate and refer patients as well as we can.

"The RCGP is working with Cancer Research UK, and others, to develop resources to support GPs in the timely identification and diagnosis of cancer."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7633/7410
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659
press@rcgp.org.uk

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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