Top tips for medical students on cancer

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Wednesday 22th April 2020

Following on from GatewayC’s successful Facebook Live we have gathered our five top tips for medical students, to improve early detection in cancer.

1. What are the key red flags to look out for?

GatewayC’s 16 free online cancer education courses incorporate NICE NG12 guidance and expert medical knowledge to highlight key symptoms, in depth.

Though there are more than 200 types of cancer, with differing red flag symptoms, the four most common cancers in the UK are breast, prostate, lung and bowel. Together these cancers count for 53% of all new cancer cases in the UK (CRUK, 2017).  Register or log in to GatewayC to access our prostate (metastatic, symptomatic and PSA screening courses), lung (early diagnosis and end of life), and bowel (early diagnosis and long-term complications) cancer courses.

Within our ‘Improving the Quality of Your Referral’ course Dr Richard Roope, RCGP National Cancer Champion and CRUK Senior Clinical Advisor, discusses how to make the right decision when analysing a patient’s level of risk; including analysing positive predictive values and conversion rates to warrant a suspected cancer referral.

2. Which guidance should I prioritise learning?

Prioritising referral guidelines are important within primary care to ensure cancer symptoms are recognised, and targets for the maximum waiting times to start treatment are met.

The NICE NG12 guideline outlines appropriate investigations in primary care, and a selection of people to refer for a specialist opinion. Ultimately, the guideline aims to help clinicians and patients understand what to expect if patients present with symptoms that may suggest cancer.

3. What are the key questions to ask during a consultation?

  • GPs often question change, progressive or persistent symptoms that directly impact how a patient normally lives their life. For example, they may have stopped going to events which they would never usually miss.
  • Assess the level of symptom impact. For example, fatigue is a common presentation in general practice, and therefore, it is important to contextualise how this affects the patient’s daily life.
  • On referral, it is crucial that secondary care trusts receive as much information as possible including the name, address and contact details of the patient.
  • Clinical details, for example what other conditions the patient may have. This may influence the tests and treatment the patient may receive.
  • General performance status.

4. What situations may I need to improve my communication skills for?

5. What online information would improve my knowledge of cancer?

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