How European primary care practitioners think the timeliness of cancer diagnosis can be improved: a thematic analysis

Longer time to the diagnosis & treatment of cancer has an adverse impact on cancer survival rates. Primary care practitioners play a crucial role during the initial diagnosis of cancer, and have important knowledge to contribute when planning more effective approaches to early diagnosis. This study surveyed over 1300 primary care practitioners across Europe to elicit their views on how to improve the timeliness of cancer diagnosis in primary care. Some of the main themes identified were related to education for both patients and health care providers, improving communication (particularly between primary and secondary care providers), and improving access to diagnostic tests and information technology in the primary care setting. The results of this study indicate that to achieve more timely cancer diagnosis, health systems should help to facilitate earlier patient presentation through education and improved access to health care, educate clinicians and provide them with good access to investigative tests and information technology, and implement adequate funding for primary care cancer diagnostic pathways. 

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