Cancer guidance 'ignored'24th May 2007
A survey of cancer specialists in the UK has found advice on how to monitor breast cancer patients in the years after their treatment is being ignored.
The study for the National Cancer Research Institute found many consultants failed to transfer the care of patients back to their GPs quickly enough.
Surgeon Peter Donnelly, who questioned 562 UK cancer specialists on how follow up care was managed, said the goals of the NHS Cancer Plan were now under threat.
Writing in Annals of Oncology, Mr Donnelly says he found that many hospitals did not follow guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which said in 2002 that routine monitoring of breast cancer patients who have been clear of disease for three years should be the responsibility of the GP.
Mr Donnelly, who works at Torbay Hospital in Devon, found most consultants had a formal plan for how patient follow-ups were dealt with, but only 9% had a plan in line with NICE guidance. Only 18% offered their patients any choice in how check-ups were carried out.
The study found that on average, patients were discharged back to the care of their GP five years after the all-clear, rather than three.
Mr Donnelly said that consultants felt that many GPs did not have enough specialist knowledge to provide safe follow-up care.
Breast cancer charity, Breast Cancer Care, has called for more training for GPs and nurses.
A spokesman said there was a discrepancy between current NICE guidelines and what doctors actually did.
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Title: Cancer guidance 'ignored'
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 2941
Date Added: 24th May 2007