National audit of cancer diagnosis in primary care

Cancer Research UK and Macmillan are currently running an enhancement of the national audit described below to gauge how NICE guidance has affected recognition and referrals of suspected cancer. To take part in this year's audit, please register here.

This audit was undertaken in 2009/10 as part of the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative. It was led by Professor Greg Rubin, with the RCGP, the National Cancer Action Team and the National Cancer Intelligence Network.

National audit: Further information



The report found that

  • three quarters (73.2 per cent) of patients visiting their GP were referred to a specialist after only one or two consultations
  • nearly 60 per cent of all patients referred (57.1 per cent) attended secondary care within two weeks

The report also looked at use of investigations and found that some cancer patients, including those with brain, ovarian, pancreatic, liver and kidney cancer, were more likely to have benefitted from better primary care access to diagnostics including

  • chest X-rays
  • non-obstetric ultrasounds
  • GI endoscopies
  • brain MRIs

Overall, rapid access to investigations would have altered the GP’s management of the patient in six per cent of cases.


The following tools were used by practices taking part in the audit and may be used in your own practice.

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