A study examining the number of visits people made to their GP before being diagnosed with cancer through accident and emergency (A&E) has shown that myeloma patients presenting via this route have the highest number of prior GP visits than any other cancer. Published recently in the British Journal Of General Practice, researchers from the Universities of Exeter, Cambridge and University College London performed a secondary analysis of patient survey data (n=4,647) from the 2010 English Cancer Patient Experience Survey. They found that, contrary to the idea that emergency presentations represent missed diagnoses, approximately a third of patients had never been to see their GP about their symptoms. These were more likely to be male, older people and those from more deprived backgrounds. Another third of patients had between one to three GP consultations and a further third had multiple (more than three) prior GP consultations. Those in the latter category were more likely to be women, younger people and from ethnic minorities. They were also more likely to have “difficult to diagnose” cancers such as myeloma and lung cancer. The authors concluded that these findings could help guide future research and policies including better education targeting different groups and symptomatic presentations.


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