Forty Years of Arctic Primary Care Research on the Early Diagnosis of Cancer
AuthorHoltedahl, Knut Arne
Usually, before a patient with cancer can be treated in a hospital, a general practitioner (GP) must suspect the diagnosis and refer the patient. GPs often worry that they could have done better for some of their cancer patients. Had there been an unreasonable delay of diagnosis? In the arctic, rural/urban city of Tromsø, this question became the subject of several scientific articles. Symptoms was an evident gateway to thinking about cancer in patients. In later years, there has been an explosion of good research studies about early diagnosis both in primary and secondary care. Through a northern gaze, the reader will be guided through a journey covering forty years of primary care-based research aiming at earlier diagnosis of cancer. Summing up, suggestions are given for: How to react upon signals from the body? And for the GP: 1. Explain unusual symptoms. 2. Add results from clinical findings and testing to symptoms. 3. Refer when the probability based on symptoms and findings exceed 3%. 4. Consider ‘fast track’ when you seriously suspect cancer. 5. Think of early diagnosis of cancer as an important, challenging and interesting part of your effort to serve the patients who consult you!