Patients with common cancers are being diagnosed five days earlier on average following the first presentation of symptoms to their GP, compared with a decade ago.
UK researchers studied records from over 20,000 patients aged over 40 presenting with 15 types of common cancer at GP practices and found the overall mean diagnostic interval in common cancer patients in 2001/02 was 5.4 days lower than in 2007/08.
The study published in the British Journal of Cancer concluded that NICE guidance on when to urgently refer patients with suspected cancer, published in 2005, was responsible ‘in part’ for the decreased time to diagnosis.
Lead author Professor Richard Neal, professor of primary care medicine at Bangor University, said: ‘Our study shows that there was a small but significant improvement overall in diagnosis times for many cancers. And this is likely, at least in part, to be as a result of the introduction of the 2005 NICE urgent referral guidelines.’