PATIENTS may soon be able to have cancer screenings earlier as clinical guidelines say GPs should be able to ‘fast-track’ testing.
The announcement made by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence suggests doctors should refer for certain tests such as CT scans without referring to a specialist first.
This is fantastic news as it will save time for GPs and mean patients could get a diagnosis soonerDr Kawai Mo
Dr Kawai Mo, GP with the Portsdown Group Practice, which has surgeries in Portsmouth and Havant, has welcomed the move.
He said: ‘This is fantastic news as it will save time for GPs and mean patients could get a diagnosis sooner. Before a patient would wait two weeks for a consultant referral.
‘But now in those two weeks the patient will be getting their scan as well as the appointment with a specialist.’
Dr Mo said the potential pitfalls could be that inexperienced GPs may refer more patients for tests, which would could cause worry and distress for them.
He added: ‘The pitfall I would be mindful of is inexperienced GPs, or those who have poor knowledge of symptoms, who may refer patients just to be sure. That could cause a patient to worry without cause, so I would urge GPs to re-educate themselves.’
The news has also been welcomed by three-time cancer survivor John Willis.
He was first diagnosed with testicular cancer, followed by stomach cancer a year later and then cancer in the lymph glands.
However five years on from his initial diagnosis the 39-year-old is fighting fit and runs his own charity.
Mr Willis, of Carlton Road, Portchester, said: ‘I was fortunate and the first two times I was sent for tests straight away.
‘But I have heard of other people waiting six or seven weeks – in that time all sorts of things can change and mentally that’s tough.’
It is thought 5,000 lives could be saved each year in England if GPs follow new guidelines on cancer diagnosis.
For the first time the guidance focuses on key symptoms, rather than encouraging GPs to consider first which cancer a patient may have and then to cross check it with the symptoms.