Joy Felgate, CEO of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust, is a member of Cancer 52 and sits on the GP knowledge sub-group with a special interest in childhood cancers.
Cancer 52 is a consortium of organisations representing the less common cancers. After the “Big Four” (breast, bowel, lung and prostate), less common cancers account for 52% of cancer related deaths in the UK.
The Government has put huge resources behind diagnosis and treatment of the Big Four, but more needs to be done to improve diagnosis, treatment and outcomes for other cancers.
Cancer 52 was formed in 2006 with a view to finding common ground on which to campaign. The issues of concern to all involved groups falls into the following categories: GP knowledge, treatment standards, data and information, research, access to drugs and clinical trials.
Of these concerns, it was decided to begin with GP Knowledge, as GPs hold the key to early diagnosis.
Early diagnosis is vital in achieving successful outcomes, but so often cancer symptoms are non specific and some of the less common cancers are rarely seen by GPs.
All childhood cancers fall into this category.
GPs are bombarded with literature and awareness raising campaigns, but swamping them with information is of no benefit. More needs to be understood about how GPs and patients relate to each other and how GPs train and acquire knowledge. A project scoping exercise is underway to determine how best to proceed in achieving earlier diagnosis of less common cancers.