Blog by Dr Fiona Walter, head of the Cancer Group at the Primary Care Unit and Director of the CanTest Collaborative
A crisis is looming for the diagnosis of gastrointestinal cancers, one grounded only partly in the steady increase in their overall incidence. Public demand for diagnostic tests to be undertaken early and at lower levels of risk is reflected in early diagnosis becoming a widely held policy objective, for reasons of both clinical outcome and patient experience.
In the UK, urgent referrals for suspected lower gastrointestinal cancer have increased by 78% in the past 6 years, with parallel increases in endoscopy and imaging activity. Today’s Perspectives article in Nature Reviews, written with , and shows that such growth in demand is unsustainable with current models of care. If gastrointestinal cancer diagnosis is to be affordable, the roles of professionals and their interactions with each other will need to be reframed, while retaining public confidence in the process. The relationship between medical specialists and generalists could be redefined to make better use of the skills of each, while delivering optimal clinical outcomes and a good patient experience.
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About the CanTest Collaborative
About the Cancer Group at the Primary Care Unit, University of Cambridge