What to tell a patient at the point of a suspected cancer referral

Friday 5th June 2020

The consequences of poor patient preparation for a suspected cancer referral pathway can be significant; impacting not only patient trust, but also the number of DNAs. A study funded by Cancer Research focused on ‘what good looks like’ at the point of referral (CRUK, 2018). It stated that a GP should:

  • Inform the patient that they are being referred to rule out cancer and reassure that most people referred will not have cancer
  • Ensure the patient understands the importance of attending their referral appointment
  • Provide written information to the patient

GatewayC’s ‘Improving the Quality of Your Referral’ course includes a full interview with three specialists, giving their opinion on what they think you should share with a patient at the point of referral first.

Key points from the interview include:

  • Communicate the positive predictive value (PPV) of cancer to the patient if possible
  • Be open with the patient, share your observations and findings
  • Written information can help the patient understand the referral process

Find out more:

  • Access GatewayC’s ‘Improving the Quality of Your Referral Course’ here
  • Read this article from Amelung et al (2019) discussing the influence of patient-doctor conversations on patient behaviour

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