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A third of GPs “unsure over treatment of breast cancer”

2 January 2008

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One-third of GPs are unsure how they should respond to worries about breast cancer, a new survey has shown.

The research from the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer reveals many doctors are not treating concerns about the disease as urgently as guidelines say they should.

Around 10% of GPs surveyed said they would treat a woman who had previously had breast cancer as a routine patient, while 34% said they would routinely refer women under the age of 30 who has reported a lump and has a family history of the disease.

But according to the charity, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) says that women should be seen urgently in both cases.

Meanwhile, the survey also found that 6% of GPs do not deem it “appropriate” to tell a woman over 70 she can receive free breast cancer treatment, despite the fact women over 50 are 80% more likely to be diagnosed with the condition.

Jeremy Hughes, the chief executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, described the survey results as “surprising”, and suggested patients could face more trauma if they are not given a clear answer about their condition.

“If you go to your GP and the GP says ‘well there may be something of concern here (but) it may not be very important’ you don’t go away and forget about it,” he said.

“You go away and worry.”

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Breakthrough Breast Cancer