|Home | About | Journals | Submit | Contact Us | Français|
The time between a person presenting to a general practitioner with a symptom of cancer and that person starting treatment has been studied in Devon. Retrospective analysis was undertaken of the general practitioner records of 1465 patients proven to have cancer who were registered with 245 general practitioners. During inspection of these records dates of first presentation, of referral, of first hospital consultation and of the start of treatment were noted for people with six common types of cancer (cancer of the breast, large bowel, lung, oesophagus, prostate and stomach). The general practitioner stage time and hospital stage time (pre-appointment and post-appointment) were calculated for each patient. Large differences were found in median times for the general practitioner stage according to the type of cancer, ranging from a median value of 0 days for people with breast cancer to 84 days for people with cancer of the oesophagus. For patients with cancer of the breast, large bowel, lung or prostate, median general practitioner times were shorter than median hospital stage times, while for patients with cancer of the oesophagus and stomach cancer, median general practitioner stage times were longer than median hospital stage times. Comparison of the hospital stage times for people with breast cancer and cancer of the large bowel showed notable differences between the four health districts in Devon, pre- and post-appointment times being twice as long in one district as in another. This retrospective record analysis was acceptable to participating practitioners. The results provide a basis for general practitioners and hospital staff to review their own work.