In an attempt to reduce the number of cancer deaths from late diagnosis, the National Cancer Director, Professor Mike Richards, has announced a series of pilot projects in GP surgeries, where new technologies are harnessed to help GPs decide who warrants further investigation.
In the article, which appeared originally in the Guardian newspaper, Professor Richards highlights the difficulty for GPs in remembering the many symptoms that can be associated with a cancer diagnosis, citing ovarian cancer as an example.
The computer programme will assess age, weight, blood pressure, family history and symptoms, and builds on a system recently developed in cardiovascular disease. The impetus for extending this work was underpinned by a series of Department of Health funded studies, undertaken by GP Dr Willie Hamilton who is also on the Target Ovarian Cancer Pathfinder Study Advisory Panel.
Frances Reid, Director of Public Affairs for Target Ovarian Cancer welcomed the pilots, "GPs have a nightmare job in trying to pick out those people who most need urgent attention, particularly when faced with very common symptoms such as bloating, or indigestion. We hope this initiative, together with others, will in future help GPs diagnose ovarian cancer more quickly, thus reducing what are often considerable delays for women. We have recently announced on online continuing professional development tool for GPs developed in conjunction with the BMJ Group."
Professor Steve Field, Chairman of the Royal College of GPs said, "GPs will welcome this, because it will make their diagnoses quicker and better. In time this will save lives."