Improving cancer care

I offered three challenges to the audience at an international conference of primary care cancer researchers in Cambridge (Ca-PRI, April 15th-16th): First, does primary care for people with cancer need to be improved, second does quality need to be measured in order to improve it, and third, how can the quality of primary care for cancer be measured. The first two were easier for the audience than the last. Quality of care for cancer is a tricky one because it includes patients who have cancer and those who might have cancer – and the issue of late diagnosis is important. Yoryos Lyratzopoulos’ research suggests that most people with cancer get referred after only one or two consultations. But Peter Vedsted‘s work suggests that cancer survival is worse in countries where primary care doctors act as gatekeepers. We do need to know where the problems lie, but for many it’s in the ‘too hard’ box. We simply don’t know whether providing a system based on easy access to primary care is part of the problem or part of the solution to early diagnosis of cancer. And we don’t yet have very good ways of finding out.

Read more about the Ca-PRI (and NAEDI) 2013 conferences in this BMJ blog by Yoryos Lyratzopoulos here .

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