New evidence on weight loss and cancer should be considered in clinical guidelines, says College

Publication date: 10 April 2018

Commenting on a new British Journal of General Practice study on weight loss and cancer, Clinical Lead for Cancer at the Royal College of GPs, Dr Richard Roope said: "GPs will always be vigilant when presented with any symptom that could indicate cancer, including unexplained weight loss, whilst recognising that this could be a symptom of many other, more common conditions.

"But currently there are no clinical guidelines to support GPs and their teams in how to respond to or investigate patients who present with weight loss, without other symptoms, in the 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.

"We agree with the researchers' recommendations that GPs need better access to diagnostic tools in the community across the UK so that we can appropriately refer patients to either rule out or confirm a diagnosis of cancer, as currently our access is amongst the lowest 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.

"Cancer is an enduring priority for the College and we are 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 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 765

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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