Delivering long-term cancer care in primary care

Over the last four decades, ten-year survival for all cancers has more than doubled in the UK from 24% to 50% due to better diagnostic technologies, treatment and screening programs. However, living with and beyond cancer presents its own unique challenges, including physical and psychological problems, employment issues, and need for supplementary information. Primary care is well placed to provide care to those who face such problems. Currently two contrasting tools; needs assessment and survivorship care plans (SCP), often initiated by secondary care are utilised. However, the tools were found to be limited by time and resources, and its benefits were negligible. A systematic review collating the views of patients and GPs revealed that patients wanted GPs to be better engaged in cancer care, be more knowledgeable in long-term cancer care and to provide better support. GPs felt they are best placed in primary care to initiate and coordinate care however, they felt they lacked time and knowledge to provide optimal care to those living with and beyond cancer. The UK has existing GP guidelines for caring for those living with and beyond cancer, however the extent of GPs’ awareness and implementation of this guideline in the UK is unknown. Future work must elucidate the barriers and facilitators to implementation of this guideline, and identify the most effect of models of care to optimize cancer care with GPs at its core. 

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