GPs are highly trained to spot cancer – but need more diagnostics and time with their patients, says RCGP

Publication date: 11 October 2019

Responding to a survey on breast cancer and secondary cancer diagnosis, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

"GPs and our teams are working flat out to do the very best we can for all our patients. We understand the importance of timely cancer diagnosis and are highly-trained to identify possible symptoms of cancer and its recurrence.

"But some symptoms are very difficult to interpret because they are vague in the initial stages, or indicative of other, more common conditions – in other cases, there may be no symptoms at all.

"We are actually making positive progress on cancer diagnosis in primary care, but GPs must have better access to the right diagnostic tools in the community and the appropriate training to use them.

"Over 1 million patients will visit their GP surgery today alone, but the number of GPs has not kept pace with patient demand, and the traditional 10-minute consultation is no longer enough for patients with complex needs.

"We urgently need greater investment in our family doctor service so that we are properly resourced and can give our patients the time they need.

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

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 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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