Most suspected cancers 'referred after first GP visit'

8 February 2013

The majority of patients with suspected cancer in England are referred to a specialist after just one or two consultations, a study has found.

More than 80 per cent of patients with suspected cancer are referred by their GP in the first two consultations, with more than half sent to a specialist at the first appointment.

The research, published in the British Journal of Cancer, suggests progress is being made in spotting cancer at the earliest opportunity.

But Cancer Research UK said more work needs to be done on early diagnosis.

Teams at the universities of Cambridge, Durham and Bangor analysed data from more than 13,000 cancer and found 58 per cent were referred to a specialist after their first trip to their doctor. 82 per cent of people were referred after two visits.

The study also found that some cancers, such as lung cancer and myeloma, are proving harder to spot in the first few consultations.

Dr Georgios Lyratzopoulos, from the Cambridge Centre for Health Services Research and the author of the study, said the results suggested progress was being made.

"We now understand the typical symptoms of some cancers very well and that helps doctors to spot them quickly," he said.

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