2 June 2015

RCGP Response to International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership Findings on Cancer Referral

Responding to research published by Cancer Research UK in the BMJ Open today, Dr Richard Roope, Clinical Lead for Cancer at the RCGP said:

“GPs see hundreds if not thousands of patients with potential cancer symptoms – but only an average of eight will be diagnosed with the disease. Data suggests that one-year survival rates are improving and three quarters of those found to have cancer are referred after one or two consultations.

“GPs across the UK are doing an excellent job considering the limited resources available to us. Of course there is always room for improvement, but funding for general practice is at an all time low, we have a severe shortage of doctors and access to scanners is very limited in UK primary care.

“GPs are often criticised for over-referring as well as under-referring patients. In order to strike the right balance we need to invest in general practice to allow us to employ more GPs and support staff and to give GPs more access to technology that could ultimately save our patients’ lives.

“We also need significant, ongoing public awareness campaigns to educate the public about the causes of cancer – more than 40% of cancers are related to lifestyle choice – and to encourage people who have signs of cancer to approach their GP as early as possible.

“Timely diagnosis of cancer is a priority for the RCGP and we are working hard to support GPs so they can identify signs of cancer as early as possible and all patients can receive the care they need at every stage of their condition.”

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7581
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659


The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 50,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.