GPs will have a pivotal role in ensuring the success of the new Faster Diagnosis Standard (FDS) for Cancer, research from the University of Surrey finds.
In the study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, researchers investigated public attitudes towards the new FDS which is scheduled to be introduced in England next year and will see patients receive a diagnosis or all-clear for cancer within 28 days of referral for suspected cancer.
Focus group sessions were conducted with participants without a current diagnosis of cancer, who had undergone diagnostic tests for cancer and received results in the last six months.
The largest cause of concern was the waiting time to obtain test results. Many participants had experienced swift referrals but encountered a delay when receiving test results and were unsure about how the FDS would rectify this. Participants felt a wait of 28 days for test results was too long.
Participants also described a lack of transparency in the referral process and were apprehensive about getting lost in the system. This feeling was exacerbated by not knowing what to expect.
Participants valued reassurance and support from their GP as highly as a speedy referral. A feeling of being listened to by a GP was found to be important to participants when being referred for diagnostic tests.
Dr Katriina Whitaker, Reader in Cancer Care at the University of Surrey, said: "Simple steps such as informing patients about the diagnostic testing and referral processes and about time scales will help patients better prepare, both physically and emotionally, for the next phase. This will ultimately fall to GPs, who will need clear guidance so they are able to support their patients."