General practitioner – early suspicion of cancer

The purpose of the project funded by the Vissing Foundation is to gain an insight into the diagnostic process and the clinical encounter in general practice between patients with a low cancer risk when the general practitioner does not necessarily suspect cancer. An early diagnosis of cancer is essential for cancer patients’ prognosis.

”We know from research that the general practitioner does not suspect cancer in 30% of the cancer patients coming in with symptoms in the general practice. This is, i.a., due to a low cancer risk and vague symptoms. The practitioner is challenged when he or she is trying to ensure an early diagnosis among cancer patients with non-specific symptoms while avoiding unnecessarily worrying patients with the same symptoms who do not have cancer. Avoiding an overload of hospitals due to referrals is also important. This requires a delicate and complex balance,” says Sara Marie Hebsgaard Offersen, post.doc., the Research Unit for General Practice in Aarhus.

The project therefore investigates how general practitioners manage a nearly ever-present cancer risk in patients with symptoms corresponding to symptoms from transitory or non-serious illnesses with no suspicion of cancer. The project will focus on various aspects of the diagnostic process in an interdisciplinary research design and in dialogue with general practitioners in parallel workshops. The project will contribute with new knowledge about the challenges, potentials and consequences linked to early cancer diagnoses in general practice with these patients.