Cancer has not gone away: A primary care perspective to support a balanced approach for timely cancer diagnosis during COVID‐19

Cancer is the leading cause of death in many countries and its prognosis is reliant on its stage of diagnosis, where earlier diagnosis offers better survival outcomes. In countries with a gatekeeper healthcare system around 86% of cancer patients are diagnosed after initial symptomatic presentation to the GP. However, due to fear of contracting COVID-19, in-person GP consultations have decreased, which may postpone presentation and evaluation of cancer symptoms and thus, delay diagnosis. As such, members of the Cancer and Primary Care Research International Network (Ca‐PRI) have suggested approaches to balance minimising the negative impact of the COVID‐19 pandemic while safeguarding timely cancer diagnosis. These approaches include: continuous assessment of COVID-19 burden; enhancing telemedicine and primary care workflows; expanding access to diagnostic services; identifying and directing care to patients at risk; improving patient outreach and education; and addressing psychosocial needs. The approaches outlined is a starting point and for primary care, COVID‐19 has offered an opportunity to find innovative ways to overcome challenges in maintaining timely cancer diagnosis.

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