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Cancer diagnosis in primary care

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The primary care nurse is often the first point The primary care nurse is often the first point of call for the patient presenting with cancer symptoms

Cancer is the second leading cause of death across the globe and was responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018.1 Despite its prevalence, patients are experiencing a significant bottleneck when it comes to diagnostic testing, leading to delays in timely treatment.2

The need to put an end to this bottleneck is unquestionable. Early diagnosis of cancer significantly improves the prognosis of remission and can decrease morbidity and cost of treatment. The World Health Organisation (WHO) highlights three important components of early diagnosis that need to be integrated into patient care:

  • Patient awareness about cancer risk factors
  • Appropriate clinical evaluation by health professionals
  • Easy access to treatment.

Primary care nurses are in a prime position to facilitate all three of these areas of patient care. They are also well-placed to evaluate risk of cancer and thus help with earlier diagnosis and reduced cancer burden. Let’s take a closer look at the nurse’s role in early diagnosis, with examples of existing interventions and ideas for practice integration.

Raising patient awareness

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I was very pleased to see this article. The whole primary care team has a role in the early detection / diagnosis of cancer. Despite General Practice Nurses being well placed to play a key part in this process many education and policy initiatives in the UK have been aimed only at GPs.
As we are seeing more inter professional learning in primary care through the Community Provider education Networks there are many opportunities to ensure that all the primary health care team has access to information and education to support early diagnosis.It is crucial that nurses and allied health professionals are included in any education intervention to promote early diagnoses!
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