46% Of GPs 'Struggle To Spot Child Cancer'

1 September 2015, 07:10

Almost half of GPs are struggling to spot the signs of cancer in children due to a lack of training, according to a poll.

A lack of awareness of symptoms is also leading to delays in diagnosis, the survey of 1,000 GPs found.

Some 46% said a lack of training was one of their top three barriers to identifying childhood cancer, with 22% saying it was their top barrier.

Almost a third (32%) said a lack of awareness of the symptoms was one of their top three barriers, while 33% said initial GP training did not offer enough experience in the care of children.

The survey was carried out for the children's cancer charity, CLIC Sargent.

Its chief executive, Lorraine Clifton, said: "It is very striking that so many GPs feel that more could be done to help them identify suspected childhood cancer.

"Because cancer in children is rare, a GP may only have one or two cases in their whole career.''

Some 57% of GPs surveyed said discussions with experts, such as paediatric specialists, would help them spot signs of cancer.

Meanwhile, 51% said they needed more time for training sessions on symptoms, and half called for more time for appointments with patients.

CLIC Sargent also surveyed 186 parents of children with cancer, of whom 62% said GPs were lacking in knowledge of symptoms.

A third felt their child had a delayed diagnosis, with just under half seeing their GP at least three times before their child's cancer was finally suspected.

Of those who felt there was a delay in diagnosis, half said it had affected the treatment their child needed.

Some 63% said the delay had affected their child's emotional wellbeing and 81% said it had had an impact on their own emotional wellbeing.