More than a quarter of Scottish emergency cancer patients haven't visited GP

More than a quarter of Scottish emergency cancer patients haven't visited GP

More than a quarter (28%) of cancer patients diagnosed as an emergency in Northern Scotland hadn't discussed any relevant symptoms with their GP beforehand, according to a study from the University of Aberdeen, published in the British Journal of Cancer today, Tuesday.

Of those who had previously flagged symptoms to their doctor, 81 per cent had been appropriately referred on by their GP for further treatment or investigation of their symptoms.

  • More than 4 in 10 (44%) had been sent straight to hospital by their GP after further tests revealed ‘red flag’ cancer signs.
  • 3 in 10 (30%) were admitted as emergencies while waiting for a hospital appointment.
  • Less than 1 in 10 (6%) had either missed or declined investigations or follow-up care recommended to them by their GP before their emergency diagnosis.

But around 2 in 10 patients (19%) could be viewed as genuine missed opportunities for GPs to diagnose cancer earlier.

Overall around 1 in 5 study participants were diagnosed with cancer as an emergency.

The study, funded by the Scottish Chief Scientist’s Office, involved a detailed review of the case notes from 1,800 patients diagnosed with cancer in Northern Scotland and registered at GP surgeries across NHS Grampian, Orkney and Shetland.

For each patient, the sequence of events leading to diagnosis was analysed, along with lifestyle characteristics as well as socio-demographic and other relevant information. This makes it one of the most detailed studies of emergency cancer presentation to date in Scotland.

Lead author, Dr Peter Murchie, a GP and researcher at the University of Aberdeen, said: “This study sheds light on the complications surrounding emergency cancer diagnosis and how quickly circumstances can change for the patient.

“It’s vital we do more to ensure people with persistent or unusual symptoms feel confident about getting them checked out by a doctor without delay. And it’s equally important to give GPs better access to the tests and specialist advice they need to help them spot potential cancer symptoms at the earliest stage.”

Jodie Moffat, Cancer Research UK’s head of early diagnosis, said: “For some patients, emergency presentation may be difficult to avoid, but for others there are often things that could have been done differently. Studies like this help us to understand this complex picture and identify what needs to change.

“Cancer patients diagnosed as an emergency are more likely to have late stage disease and poorer survival. So it’s vital we do all we can to break down barriers to people visiting their doctor with symptoms that could be cancer. Cancer Research UK is also working with GPs in Scotland to help improve early cancer diagnosis and ensure they have the freedom to refer patients for further tests and access specialist advice if cancer is suspected.”

Search News

Browse by Month

2021

  1. Jan
  2. Feb
  3. Mar
  4. Apr
  5. May There are no items to show for May 2021
  6. Jun
  7. Jul
  8. Aug There are no items to show for August 2021
  9. Sep
  10. Oct
  11. Nov There are no items to show for November 2021
  12. Dec There are no items to show for December 2021

2020

  1. Jan There are no items to show for January 2020
  2. Feb There are no items to show for February 2020
  3. Mar There are no items to show for March 2020
  4. Apr
  5. May
  6. Jun
  7. Jul
  8. Aug
  9. Sep
  10. Oct
  11. Nov There are no items to show for November 2020
  12. Dec

2019

  1. Jan
  2. Feb There are no items to show for February 2019
  3. Mar
  4. Apr
  5. May
  6. Jun
  7. Jul
  8. Aug
  9. Sep
  10. Oct
  11. Nov There are no items to show for November 2019
  12. Dec

2018

  1. Jan There are no items to show for January 2018
  2. Feb
  3. Mar There are no items to show for March 2018
  4. Apr There are no items to show for April 2018
  5. May
  6. Jun There are no items to show for June 2018
  7. Jul There are no items to show for July 2018
  8. Aug
  9. Sep
  10. Oct
  11. Nov
  12. Dec There are no items to show for December 2018

2016

  1. Jan
  2. Feb There are no items to show for February 2016
  3. Mar
  4. Apr There are no items to show for April 2016
  5. May
  6. Jun
  7. Jul
  8. Aug
  9. Sep
  10. Oct
  11. Nov
  12. Dec

2015

  1. Jan
  2. Feb
  3. Mar
  4. Apr
  5. May
  6. Jun
  7. Jul
  8. Aug
  9. Sep
  10. Oct
  11. Nov There are no items to show for November 2015
  12. Dec

2013

  1. Jan There are no items to show for January 2013
  2. Feb There are no items to show for February 2013
  3. Mar There are no items to show for March 2013
  4. Apr There are no items to show for April 2013
  5. May There are no items to show for May 2013
  6. Jun There are no items to show for June 2013
  7. Jul There are no items to show for July 2013
  8. Aug
  9. Sep There are no items to show for September 2013
  10. Oct There are no items to show for October 2013
  11. Nov There are no items to show for November 2013
  12. Dec There are no items to show for December 2013

2010

  1. Jan There are no items to show for January 2010
  2. Feb There are no items to show for February 2010
  3. Mar There are no items to show for March 2010
  4. Apr There are no items to show for April 2010
  5. May There are no items to show for May 2010
  6. Jun There are no items to show for June 2010
  7. Jul
  8. Aug There are no items to show for August 2010
  9. Sep There are no items to show for September 2010
  10. Oct There are no items to show for October 2010
  11. Nov There are no items to show for November 2010
  12. Dec There are no items to show for December 2010