GPs in England refer most cancer patients quickly says study

In collaboration with the Press Association

Research from the Royal College of General Practitioners has found that most patients in England are referred to specialists within a month of seeing their GP with symptoms of cancer.

The National Audit of Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care is the most comprehensive study ever into how people are diagnosed with cancer. The report looked at around one in seven GP practices in England.

The audit found that 73.2 per cent of patients only had went to see their GP once or twice before being referred to a specialist. Of those, 57.1 per cent were referred to a specialist within 14 days.

Professor Greg Rubin, Professor of General Practice and Primary Care at Durham University and RCGP project lead for the audit said: "This report provides the first detailed analysis of how GPs diagnose cancer. The good news is that many patients are identified promptly as needing specialist assessment, but we could do better and improved access to cancer tests would help in this."

Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK's director of information, said: "It's good news that nearly three quarters of cancer patients are referred to specialists within a month of visiting their doctor. But it's important that GPs don't rest on their laurels as too many patients still slip through the net. As this audit shows, one in four is not seen promptly so diagnosis and treatment may be delayed.

"Cancer Research UK is pleased to be working with the Royal College of GPs more closely on the challenges of cancer in primary care and we look forward to seeing further improvements for people with this disease. The earlier cancer is diagnosed the more successful treatment is likely to be."

Copyright Press Association 2011