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Primary care referrals quicker for common cancers

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More than three-quarters of cancer patients who first attend their GP surgery showing suspicious symptoms are referred to a specialist after only one or two consultations, according to a report.

A study led by the University of Cambridge found 77% of cancer patients were referred by GPs quickly, with common conditions including breast, testicular and endometrial cancers.

But it found patients with less common types of cancer, such as pancreatic, stomach and ovarian, are more likely to be referred on after three or more visits to their family doctor.

More consultations are also common when the patient is female, young or an older person from an ethnic minority, the researchers said.

University of Cambridge clinical senior research associate Dr Georgios Lyratzopoulos, who led the research, said: “These findings highlight limitations in current scientific knowledge about these cancers.”

Variation in number of general practitioner consultations before hospital referral for cancer: findings from the 2010 National Cancer Patient Experience Survey in England.

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