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06 August 2015 09:21
One in four cancer patients have seen a GP three or more times prior to testing
A quarter of cancer patients have had to see a GP three or more times before being sent for diagnostic tests, research suggests.
Cancer Research UK, which published the findings of the University College London (UCL) study, warns delays in diagnosis could lead to a loss of confidence in the health service, as well as having an impact on survival rates.
The findings also show that those who experience delays are more likely to be dissatisfied with their overall care.
UCL scientists analysed the responses of 60,000 cancer patients diagnosed through their GP.
They found that 13,300 - or 23% - had made three or more visits before being tested, of whom 39% were dissatisfied with the support they received from GPs and nurses.
In comparison, 28% of those who needed two or fewer visits expressed dissatisfaction.
Patients who suffered delays were also more likely to harbour negative views across 10 of 12 different aspects of their care, from distrust in nurses to suspicions that information was deliberately withheld.
Each journey is different. But cancer patients do not have to stop doing the things they love when undergoing treatment.
Cancer travel insurance, for instance, gives them the peace of mind to enjoy trips abroad.
Dr Georgios Lyratzopoulos, a Cancer Research UK scientist at UCL, says first impressions go a long way in determining how cancer patients view their experience of cancer treatment.
He claims a negative experience of diagnosis can trigger a loss of confidence in their care, throughout the cancer journey.
Sara Hiom, director of early diagnosis at Cancer Research UK, adds the findings are another good reason to highlight the importance of diagnosing cancer as quickly as possible.
She says quicker diagnosis improves the experience of care for patients.
The research was published by the European Journal of Cancer Care.
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