“Could this patient have cancer and how best should I investigate this possibility?”

Dr Owen Carter, Macmillan GP Facilitator and Cancer Clinical Commissioning Lead for Wandsworth CCG

16th November 2018

C the Signs is a clinical decision support tool that makes my life as a GP so much easier. When faced with the clinical dilemma of “Could this patient have cancer and how best should I investigate this possibility?”, C the Signs offers me a tool that I can use during the consultation to check the best options available to me. NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) and Pan London TCST (Transforming Cancer Services Team) guidance states I should consider the possibility of cancer at a lower threshold than previously, to help improve the low rates of early cancer diagnosis and increase them close to our EU counterparts.

We know that in the UK, patients are often diagnosed late, resulting in a lower chance of full recovery. However, there isn’t the capacity to fill up Consultant Lead clinics with extra referrals. So, there needs to be clear pathways in investigating these patients within primary care and knowing where is best to refer the patient onto. It can also be a real challenge to think “Could this be cancer?” when a patient presents with vague symptoms.

The C the Signs tool helps GPs and other professionals working within primary care to help make evidence-based clinical decisions on investigating patients with suspected cancer. It provides a very quick and easy method to help empower clinicians to make sure they are investigating patients appropriately, to help catch cancer at an earlier stage. It also provides immediate identification of the correct investigation pathway for that patient.

With new referral and investigation pathways being updated all the time, it is often difficult to know what is available in my patch. The C the Signs app is updated within 24 hours of any new pathway, or direct access investigation being made available, so it is easy to keep up to speed.

It is an excellent tool, and one that has the potential to improve early identification of cancer; and clear investigation pathways to primary care clinicians.