The module is designed to support GPs and other healthcare professionals in improving their knowledge and understanding of primary bone cancer.

Logo of the Royal College of General Practitioners

The aim of the module is to promote earlier diagnosis of this rare cancer, and improve the diagnostic experience for patients.

Our innovative free course for GPs provides:

  • new information about symptoms - in particular, the 'red flags'
  • a source of expert advice
  • detailed case studies
  • a demonstration of the best methods of diagnosis to identify this cancer early

Log on to the primary bone cancer e-learning module

An update on our GP e-learning module: March 2017

  • Our GP E-Learning module has now been running since July 2014 and has been accessed by over 900 GP’s and healthcare professionals in this time.
  • From assessing GP’s both before and after completing the module, we are able to report that GP's completing the module saw their knowledge increase by 69.7%
  • When collating reviews of the module, a large 82.6% rated the course as 4* or higher - with an average of 4.35/5 star rating.

One GP told us the course was an

‘Interesting and useful refresher of a clinical condition rarely seen in general practice, but where early diagnosis can make such a difference’.

While others informed us of how the module has helped raise their awareness:

‘Really useful and lots of good tips. I didn’t realise that a normal X-ray does not exclude primary bone cancer. Although I have never looked after a primary bone cancer patient this module has made me so much more aware!’.

'Very helpful module. Very useful pointers which will change my practice.'

We are happy to continue to receive great feedback from the module and will continue to promote this module to improve the knowledge of GP’s in order to aid an earlier diagnosis for primary bone cancer patients.

Why is early diagnosis so important?

Primary bone cancer is rare, but highly malignant. Many GPs and healthcare professionals have never seen or treated a case. Symptoms are easily - and often - mistaken for other conditions. Patients frequently present with advanced tumours. This can all lead to a catastrophic diagnostic experience for patients, delaying crucial treatment.

Between 2005 and 2010, just 41% of patients were sent for further investigation via a standard GP referral, or via the urgent Two-Week Wait system.

Almost a quarter were diagnosed after an emergency admission. These patients were more likely to require an amputation, and had a poorer survival outlook than those who were referred by their doctor.

(Statistics provided by the West Midlands Public Health England Knowledge and Intelligence Team)

What difference will this e-learning module make?

The primary bone cancer e-learning module will help GPs and healthcare professionals spot primary bone cancer symptoms sooner by providing them with the right information, in particular the 'red flags':

  • Pain at rest - which may be intermittent
  • Pain at night
  • Reduced mobility
  • Pain away from the joint
  • Easy bruising
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Fevers or sweats
  • Weight loss

The module also recommends doctors to:

  • Use differential diagnosis
  • Have high index of suspicion and low threshold for possible cancer symptoms
  • Contact the specialist bone cancer centres for advice and make referrals to these directly

The module guides learners through two detailed case studies, followed by information about how diagnosis can be sped up, and primary bone cancer treatment and possible outcomes.

It also looks at the importance of reviewing late diagnoses and including observations by other health professionals to improve the diagnostic experience for future patients.

Intermittent bone pain

It has been a long-standing view among medical professionals that primary bone cancer pain is always continuous. Both GPs and physiotherapists are trained to dismiss a cancer diagnosis if symptoms are intermittent.

The primary bone cancer e-learning module provides robust scientific research which proves that pain can be intermittent and should be considered by GPs and others when making their diagnosis.