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GPs under pressure not to refer - understandable they are cautious, says RCGP

"GPs will always act in the best interests of the patient in front of us – taking into account their unique circumstances. But we do face considerable pressure not to refer patients to secondary care, so it's unsurprising that some GPs are cautious about making a referral unless they are confident that a patient clearly meets all the necessary criteria.

"With many symptoms of bowel cancer being very common, and similar to conditions of other, non-life-threatening conditions - and with clinical guidelines, quite rightly, being updated frequently as new evidence is taken into account, making this decision is not straightforward.

"What would be helpful for GPs, and beneficial for our patients, is greater and timely access to diagnostic tools in the community that could inform our decision to refer patients with suspected cancer to specialist services.

"Cancer is an enduring priority for the College, in partnership with Cancer Research UK, and we have developed a wide range of resources to support GPs in the timely identification of cancer, and keep up to date with the latest clinical guidelines and information in this area."

@rcgp

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