Today the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published new Referral Guidelines for Suspected Cancer.
David Park, Head of Policy and Campaigns, Pancreatic Cancer UK, comments:
“We have been calling for the Referral Guidelines for Suspected Cancer to be updated for some time. So we are pleased to see that there is a dedicated section for pancreatic cancer for the first time in the new Guidelines, as well a prompt for GPs to consider ‘an urgent direct access CT scan’ for patients presenting with the symptoms chosen for inclusion by NICE.
“However, we feel the Guidelines do not go far enough in addressing the problem of delays in diagnosing pancreatic cancer. For instance, there are problems with the age thresholds which we believe could lead to many younger patients – those under the age of 60 – not being referred for CT scans under the new Guidelines and who therefore might continue to miss out on the chance of an earlier diagnosis. At the moment there are around 1,300 newly diagnosed pancreatic cancer patients under the age of 60 each year who might be missed in this way.
“These guidelines do not take the place of clinical judgement of course, but as so many pancreatic cancer patients visit their GP multiple times before being referred, and fully half are diagnosed late by an emergency admission route, clearly GPs need stronger Guidelines to supplement their own knowledge, experience and intuition.
“We would like to see an early review of the Guidelines so that some of these issues can be addressed in response to any new evidence. We also urgently need to see an increase in research into the symptoms that pancreatic cancer patients go to their GPs with, as well as into early diagnosis of the disease, to ensure we can strengthen these Guidelines in future and ensure more lives are saved through earlier diagnosis of the disease.”
Read more about our thoughts on the new Guidelines in our blog.