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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Cancer referral 'confusion'

2nd January 2008

A survey has shown that many GPs are confused about how to deal with women who are concerned they may have breast cancer.


Breakthrough Breast Cancer's survey of 200 GPs for the BBC's Today radio show said that some doctors did not know whether they should make referrals urgently or routinely.

The survey found that many GPs adhered to National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines in making referrals. However, 10% of GPs would make a routine referral in the case of a patient who "previously had confirmed breast cancer", although NICE guidelines say that she should "be seen urgently".

Over one third - 34% - of GPs said they would make a routine referral for a woman aged under 30 who "had reported a lump and had reasons for concern, such as a family history of the disease", although NICE says those cases should be referred urgently.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said he thought it was "surprising" that all GPs did not understand how to deal with the issues.

Mr Hughes said this revealed "a real need for education about the signs and symptoms of the disease and breast screening".

He added that GPs and Primary Care Trusts played a "key role" in helping women to understand breast cancer, its diagnosis and treatment.

The Department of Health said that 99% of patients who had "suspected" cancer were examined by a specialist within a fortnight of referral by their family doctor.

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