Second opinions for patients with cancer

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.7014.1179 (Published 04 November 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1179
  1. Karol Sikora
  1. Professor of clinical oncology ICRF Oncology Unit, Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital, London W12 0NN

    Can give peace of mind but should be used wisely

    Cancer is a common disease. Currently it will affect one in three of us in Britain, but by 2020 the figure will be one in two because of changes in the age distribution of the population. The report of the Expert Advisory Group on Cancer has recently been accepted by health ministers in Britain.1 When fully implemented this will provide a hub and spoke system for cancer care based on protocols devised by about 25 cancer centres linked to units in every sizeable general hospital. This will reduce the problem of variations in the quality of care, but it will take time, money, and effort to achieve. There will also be considerable advances in the technology of cancer care, spawned mainly by a revolution in molecular genetics.2

    Cancer evokes considerable emotion in patients, their families and carers, and health care professionals. The information charities BACUP and Cancerlink have been remarkably successful in providing objective information about various aspects of cancer and its treatment, and since their creation they have dealt with an increasing number of telephone inquiries. But often the apparent hopelessness of the situation and the way …

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