GP teams need much better access to cancer diagnostic tools, says College

Publication date: 01 May 2019

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to a piece of new research from Pancreatic Cancer UK.

She said: "GPs are acutely aware of how important it is to spot symptoms of pancreatic cancer, but it is notoriously difficult to diagnose in primary care, particularly in its early stages, simply because there are often no symptoms, at all – and when symptoms do present they are often initially very vague, and could indicate many other, more common conditions.

"The most appropriate intervention to address this paradox is to give primary care teams better access to the right diagnostic tools in the community - and the appropriate training to use them - and we welcome the recommendations set out in this report to do this.

"GPs are already doing a good job of diagnosing most cancers in a timely way, and it's due to this hard work and vigilance that 75% of patients found to have some form of cancer are referred after only one or two consultations, and that since 2008 the proportion of cancers diagnosed as an emergency have dropped from 23% to less than 19%.

"But it's unsurprising to hear that just one in ten GPs feel as though they have access to the tools needed to diagnose pancreatic cancer, as we are working under immense resource and workforce pressures, and our access to important diagnostic tests are amongst the lowest in Europe.

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

Further Information

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 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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