Fewer cancers diagnosed as emergencies is testament to vigilance of GPs, says RCGP

Publication date: 28 August 2019

Responding to new research published in the British Journal of General Practice showing a decrease in cancers diagnosed as emergencies, Professor Martin Marshall, Vice Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“This drop in cancers being diagnosed as emergency presentations is a testament to the vigilance of GPs and our team members who understand the importance of timely diagnosis, and work hard to strike the balance between over, under and appropriate referral.


“In cases where cancers are diagnosed as an emergency, it’s important to note that some types of cancer, such as pancreatic cancer, are notoriously difficult to spot in the early stages, either because symptoms might initially be vague and indicative of other, more common conditions – or because there may be no symptoms, at all.


GPs are highly-trained to spot possible symptoms of the disease before recommending patients onto specialist referral. But the best way to further build on the positive progress we’re seeing with cancer diagnosis in this research, is to give GPs better access to the right diagnostic tools in the community - and the appropriate training to use them.


“That’s why we need to see more investment injected into primary care, the delivery of the NHS Long-Term Plan, and further details about how the proposals in the interim People Plan will be achieved, to ensure our profession is properly resourced both now and in the future.


“Cancer is an enduring priority for the RCGP, and we have worked with Cancer Research UK, Macmillan and others to develop resources for GPs and other healthcare professionals to support them in the timely diagnosis of cancer.”

Further Information

Access the BJGP research

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 53,000 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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