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Episode 091: Common blood tests before cancer diagnosis and implications for primary care

In this episode, we talk to Ben Cranfield, who is undertaking a PhD In the Department of Behavioural Science and Health at UCL.

Paper: Primary care blood tests before cancer diagnosis: National Cancer Diagnosis audit data

Available at: https://doi.org/10.3399/BJGP.2022.0265

Evidence relating to the predictive value of blood tests for cancer diagnosis is growing, yet how often they are used by GPs in pre-diagnosed cancer patients is unclear. In England, two-fifths of patients subsequently diagnosed with cancer in 2018 had at least one full blood count, urea & electrolyte or liver function test. Blood test use was less likely in women, non-white and younger patients and more likely in those presenting with non-specific symptoms, with longer intervals to referral and diagnosis being associated with tested patients. This research highlights potential unmet need for interventions to reduce the risk of overuse (in populations presenting with more-specific symptoms) and underuse (in patients presenting with less-specific symptoms) of blood tests in cancer populations.

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