NICE round up: Recognising and referring patients with suspected cancer
NICE has updated its previous clinical guideline CG27 published in June 2005 on how recognition and referral of suspected cancer patients including children, young people and adults should be carried out.
The evidence based advice focuses on types of cancers including, lung and pleural, upper and lower gastrointestinal tract, breast, gynaecological, urological, skin, head and neck, brain and central nervous system, haematological, sarcomas and childhood.
Symptoms of concern were also highlighted, explaining that for adults unexplained weight loss is a key identifier of several different cancers including; urological, lung, prostate and pancreatic.
Additional symptoms or concerns for adults with suspected cancer should be assessed to clarify the type of cancer they are most likely to have, and patients should be offered an urgent investigation or a suspected cancer pathway referral.
Discussion is a key part of the diagnosis process. During the time when the cancer is suspected the referral decision and information should be given to patients and their carers. While the patient is being referred, their continuing support during the waiting time to their referral appointment should be accessed. Any additional/personal support needs the patient may have should be explained to the specialist, with the patient’s agreement.
It is also highlighted that separate recommendations need to be made for adults, young people and children so they can receive the correct referral pathway.
Although, young people aged between 16-24 may be referred either to an adult or child pathway, their local arrangements so far and their age should be taken into account.
Additionally, the updated guideline focuses on safety netting, patient support, and the diagnostic process.