Case Study - The 'Non-Converters'

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goldfishThe National Cancer Intelligence Network shows that 10 per cent of referrals convert to a cancer diagnosis, and under 50 per cent of cancers are detected via the two week wait in England.

With these figures in mind, the challenge for GPs is to risk assess each patient using the tools we have available to try to detect ‘the needle in the haystack.’ The methods we have at our disposal include the QCancer and NICE guidelines, even sometimes a sixth sense for it based on previous experience.

As important as it is to try to catch and correctly diagnose cancer cases, it is equallyas important to use the opportunity presented by those who do not convert to a cancerdiagnosis, to encourage the patient to consider healthier lifestyle choices, which can bring about positive change in their lives, and reduce their risk of being diagnosed in the future.

Often the period following a negative cancer diagnosis triggers an increased self-awareness of general health in the patient, which we as GPs can use to try to bring about positive changes.

We should take this time to assess the patient’s lifestyle risks and impart the ‘golden nuggets’ (so to speak) of information on the pros and cons of tobacco consumption, weight management, alcohol consumption, sun exposure and diet. These lifestyle factors are thought to play a key role in up to 40% of cancers in the UK, despite the fact that resources of advice are readily available.

It is both an opportunity and a responsibility of ours as GPs to recognise the salience of the advice in these moments to bring about real and positive change in our patients’ health. So be pro-active with your ‘non-converters’. Your wisdom may just be at the peak point of influence!

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Dr. Ishani Patel

MBBS BSc MRCGP DCH DRCOG

General Practitioner

E-learning CPD Fellow, RCGP

Associate GP, Cancer Commissioning Team – North West & South London

Advisory Committee on Cervical Screening (ACCS), Public Health England

 

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