Cookie policy notice

By continuing to use this site you agree to our cookies policy below:
Since 26 May 2011, the law now states that cookies on websites can ony be used with your specific consent. Cookies allow us to ensure that you enjoy the best browsing experience.

This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

My campaign against campaigns continues

  • Print
  • Comment
  • Save

I fear I’m about to breach some sort of blogger/columnist code which may well have the editor hauling me in for detention. The thing is, I want to refer, in my own blog, to one of my own columns – this one, about how the idea  of indiscriminately encouraging patients to attend their GP after just three weeks of cough, in case it’s cancer, makes me want to hawk on the campaign posters. This may appear self referential and self indulgent, but my justification is that I don’t care. Because I was right and it’s worse than I thought.

I have just seen five patients in my morning surgery complaining of cough and every single one attended because of this sodding campaign. FIVE PATIENTS. That’s nearly an hour of prime consulting time wasted. Not one will turn out to have cancer and I say this with some confidence because four of them were young and didn’t smoke (oh yeah, and had colds, which isn’t usually how lung cancer presents).

As for the other one? Ah, that’s where it gets interesting. She’d been suffering a cough for two years. Yes, two years. Doctor’s logic? Well, that’s nothing to worry about because if it really was caused by lung cancer it would have killed you by now. Patient’s logic? If three weeks equates to lung cancer then two years must be something proportionately awful – like 35 lung cancers (do the maths). So she was genuinely terrified.

All of which goes to show that even I have underestimated the various ways in which these campaigns can scare the pants off punters who, after all, are endlessly inventive in how they misunderstand health advice. And that’s why I’m blogging this addendum to my column. The campaign, after all, is called ‘Be clear on cancer’. So I thought I ought to clarify why it’s absolute bullshit.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex.

Have your say

  • Print
  • Comment
  • Save

From: Copperfield

Dr Tony Copperfield is a jobbing GP in Essex with more than a few chips on his shoulder