With over 20 years’ experience as a GP, Dr Green explains more about the importance of the Bone Cancer Research Trust GP e-learning module and why it is so essential for GPs to be aware of the symptoms of primary bone cancer.
WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT FOR GPS TO BE AWARE OF PRIMARY BONE CANCER SYMPTOMS?
Primary bone cancer is rare and therefore, the average full-time GP is likely to see between zero and one case of bone cancer throughout their whole career.
30% of all GP consultations are for musculoskeletal disorders and it is therefore very difficult for GPs to sieve through them and spot the serious presenting pathologies. A heightened awareness and a good knowledge of the presenting features is critical for a GP to make an early diagnosis and thereafter, to follow the correct rapid-referral pathways.
HOW USEFUL IS THE BONE CANCER RESEARCH TRUST E-LEARNING MODULE FOR GPS?
I have used the BCRT e-learning module and it is superb. It covers everything a GP needs to know about the ‘Red Flag’ presenting symptoms and signs of bone cancer, some theoretical background of the various forms and places great emphasis on the critical relationship between early detection and improved prognosis. All GPs are aware of bacterial meningitis but many will never see a case. The same should apply to bone cancer because a missed diagnosis can be
equally catastrophic. That is the reason GPs should take a few minutes to complete the e-learning module.
ARE GPS TRAINED IN PRIMARY BONE CANCER SYMPTOMS? IF NOT, WHY NOT?
GPs are not specifically trained in primary bone cancer as it is not a specified component of the GP trainee curriculum. It may be that their knowledge comes from seeing a case in practice or via background reading but no mandatory training in this area of medicine is required to become a qualified GP.
AS A FORMER PATIENT AND A GP WHAT MESSAGE WOULD YOU GIVE TO PATIENTS OR OTHER MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS?
It is critical to be persistent as a patient if you feel that your symptoms have a potentially serious underlying cause and insist that further investigations are performed. As a medical professional, the opportunity to make a significant difference to a patient’s prognosis and future life is a gift but missing a case by delaying or missing a diagnosis is catastrophic, not only for the well-being of the patient but also that of the medical professional.
If you are a GP, or other healthcare professional, who wishes to take our free e-learning course, please click here.