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Dr Peter Holloway with Macmillan multi-disciplinary centre specialist, Nyssa Muskett.
Pathway for GPs can help diagnose cancer earlier
01 November 2017

GPs in Ipswich are being encouraged to use a pilot ‘vague symptom’ pathway at our hospital so that some cancers are diagnosed earlier.

MIDAS (Macmillan Ipswich Diagnosis Assessment Service) was launched last December and is one of three hospitals in the East of England piloting the new service. It allows GPs to make referrals if their patient has sudden unexplained weight loss (vague symptoms), if they have a ‘gut feeling’ of malignancy or serious pathology, and if there is no other urgent referral pathway suitable.

“The aim is to get to diagnostic testing quickly and to diagnose more cancers at an earlier stage” said Macmillan multi-disciplinary centre specialist, Nyssa Muskett, who works on the project along with GP with special interest, Dr Peter Holloway.

“We are trying to catch the cancers that don’t necessarily have the usual symptoms.”

“If a cancer is not found, normally the majority of patients will have some sort of other diagnosis made, having had a number of different tests such as blood tests, CT scans, and endoscopies.”

Nyssa, who explained how it was Gillian Heard - lead cancer nurse in the palliative care team that helped get the project up and running - added: “It’s certainly an exciting project to be involved in and we want people to know that we are doing this work.”

There have been about 80 referrals since the service started, with over 30% being diagnosed with some form of serious pathology, including liver, lung and pancreatic tumours.

The pilot will continue to run until June, and will inform development of similar clinics regionally.