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GPs in England failing to urgently refer patients with ‘red flag’ signs of cancer – study

cancer

GPs in England failing to urgently refer patients with ‘red flag’ signs of cancer – study

GPs are failing to urgently refer patients with “red flag” signs of suspected cancer to a specialist, research suggests.

Six out of 10 patients in England with key symptoms indicating possible cancer did not receive an urgent referral for specialist assessment within two weeks, as recommended in clinical guidelines, according to a new study.

Nearly 4% of these patients were subsequently diagnosed with cancer within the next 12 months. The findings were published in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety.

In the study, researchers analysed records from almost 49,000 patients who consulted their GP with one of the warning signs for cancer that should warrant referral under clinical guidelines.

They found that six out of 10 patients were not referred for cancer investigation within two weeks of the first visit. Of the 29,045 patients not referred, 1,047 developed cancer within a year (3.6%).

The charity said the cancers may not have been picked up in part because of the pause in breast cancer screening during the first wave of Covid
Early diagnosis and prompt treatment is crucial to survival chances. Every four-week delay in cancer treatment increases the risk of death by 10%.

The study was led by the University of Exeter, working with University College London, and funded by Cancer Research UK. Researchers studied records from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, as well as data on visits to hospital and cancer registration data between 2014 and 2015.

They looked at patients who had reported cancer warning signs to their GP for the first time. The “red flag” symptoms included blood in urine, a breast lump, problems swallowing, iron-deficiency anaemia and postmenopausal or rectal bleeding.

The lowest referral rate was for problems swallowing, at just 17%, and the highest was for breast lump, at 68%.

“The number of patients who go on to be diagnosed with cancer when they are not urgently referred indicates that following the guidelines more strictly would have significant benefits,” the researchers wrote.

The lead author of the study, Dr Bianca Wiering, said: “It’s important to note that this issue does not just lie with GPs – we also need to ensure the services to provide the tests needed on referral are well resourced, which we know is currently not always the case.”

Prof Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “GPs follow clinical guidance to ensure that referrals are appropriate and are sensitive to the risks of over-referring patients because this would risk overloading specialist services and would not be helpful to patients or the NHS.

“GPs find themselves in a position where they are criticised for referring both too much and too little: what would help is better access to diagnostic tools in the community and additional training to use them and interpret the results, so that better informed referrals can be made.”

Separately, the charity Breast Cancer Now has warned that almost 12,000 women could be living with undiagnosed breast cancer after missing out on NHS screening because of the pandemic.

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Health

AIDS Agency Chief Says 1 Out Of 100 Persons Positive In Kaduna

The Executive Secretary of Kaduna State Aids Control Agency (KADSACA), Dr Isa Baka has said a survey had revealed that one out of 100 people is positive to the AIDS disease in the state.

Baka disclosed this speaking shortly after a walk in commemoration of the World AIDS Day, on Thursday in Kaduna.

The theme of the year’s’ World AIDS Day is “Equalise to End AIDS: Equal Access to Treatment and Prevention Services’’.

He said the present statistics was a remarkable development against previous survey which gave 11 of every 100 people in the state.

Baka added that the AIDS prevalence in Kaduna, which is at 1.1, being a survey carried out by the state government itself, was later done at the national level, where that of Kaduna was confirmed as very accurate.

“At the national level, the prevalence of the virus (AIDS) was at 1.4 (four people out of 100 test positive), while that of Kaduna is confirmed to be 1.1, was in determination of the state government and KADSACA’s efforts to ensure minimal prevalence of the virus,” he said.

He said as part of efforts to continue reducing the prevalence of AIDS in the state, government initiated programmes across the 23 LGAs.

He said one of the UNICEF anchored programmes, which is the ‘Adolescent and Youths Living With HIV and AIDS’ programme, was present and effective in at least, 18 LGAs and 24 sites in the state.

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Health

Malawi Commences Large Scale Malaria Vaccination- First In The World

Malawi has commenced large-scale vaccination of children against malaria.

This is the first large-scale malaria vaccination campaign since the World Health Organisation (WHO) endorsed the widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine in October 2021.

The endorsement followed a two-year vaccination programme, which involved more than 800,000 children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.

Recommended for children from five months of age to around 18 months, the vaccine  has an efficacy of 39 percent.

The first phase of the vaccination in Malawi is expected to cover 11 of the country’s 28 districts.

In a tweet on Tuesday, the WHO in Malawi said the expansion of access to the malaria vaccine will enable more children at risk of malaria to benefit from an additional prevention tool.

“Malawi has expanded access to the first malaria vaccine! The expansion of the RTS,S Malaria vaccine, into the 11 districts that participated in the malaria vaccine implementation program (MVIP) has been launched today. The vaccine offers a glimmer hope for Malawi,” WHO wrote.

Michael Kayange, Malawi’s national malaria control programme manager, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa that although the vaccine has low efficacy, “in malaria control, there is no single intervention that does it all”.

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Nigeria Yet To Attain 70% Covid-19 Vaccination Coverage- NPHCDA

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has disclosed that Nigeria is yet to achieve 70 percent coverage for COVID-19 vaccination.

Faisal Shuaib, executive director of NPHCDA, said on Tuesday that as of November 25, a total of 56,790,371 eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination are fully vaccinated while 12,492,646 are partially vaccinated in 36 states and the FCT.

“We are 21.6 million eligible persons away from reaching its target of fully vaccinating 70 percent of its eligible population by December 2022,” he said.

“But 62 percent of the country’s eligible population is at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19.

“The country has fully vaccinated half of the total population eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

“We have also fully vaccinated an additional over 25 percent of its eligible population, in the last 110 days of SCALES 3.0 implementation.”

The executive director said 13.2 percent of fully vaccinated persons in the country have received the COVID-19 booster dose for additional protection against the virus.

He commended the COVID-19 strategy group for achieving 50 percent vaccination coverage in the country and promised that the momentum would be sustained.

Shuaib said he has also directed the team to intensify efforts toward the attainment of herd immunity.

“Until this is achieved, the strategy group will continue to develop strategies that will help the country achieve health security,” he said.

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