Intended for healthcare professionals


New guidelines for urgent referral of patients with cancer are waste of energy

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 01 January 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:59
  1. Karol Sikora, global vice president (
  1. Clinical Research (Oncology), Pharmacia and Upjohn, via Robert Koch, Milan 20152, Italy

    EDITOR—Guidelines have recently been sent out by the Department of Health for wide consultation in the United Kingdom.1 The aim is try to reduce mortality from cancer in the United Kingdom by guaranteeing that all patients who present to their general practitioner with symptoms possibly due to cancer are seen in a hospital clinic within two weeks. But there is no evidence whatsoever that delay in diagnosis is a large problem in the United Kingdom. Efforts to implement the so called two week policy are misplaced. The guidelines themselves represent a reasonable distillation from basic medical textbooks, but they are patronising to doctors, who have the longest university training of any …

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