Gut feelings in GPs and cancer diagnosis

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Claire Friedemann Smith explains the findings of a systematic review that suggests GPs’ gut feelings may have a role in cancer diagnosis. The studies, which used varied conceptualisations of ‘gut feelings’, showed associations with patients initially being unwell rather than with a suspicion of cancer. Pooled odds of a cancer diagnosis were four times higher when gut feelings were recorded, and became more predictive of cancer as clinical experience and familiarity with the patient increased. This may encourage GPs to acknowledge the diagnostic value of gut feelings and have more confidence in including them in their clinical assessment.

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