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Ir Med J. 2011 Feb;104(2):39-41.

NCCP breast cancer referral guidelines--are breast cancer patients prioritised?


Following centralisation of breast cancer services, the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) introduced referral guidelines indicating which patients require urgent, early and routine review. This study prospectively analysed referrals to a symptomatic breast unit over 3 months to measure Primary Care Physician (GP) uptake of the NCCP referral guidelines, compare triage patterns of GP and consultant breast surgeon and evaluate the efficacy of the guidelines at identifying patients with breast cancer. 1044 consecutive referrals were categorised according to NCCP guidelines. 637 (61%) were referred using the NCCP form. GP referrals correlated well with consultant breast surgeon for patients requiring urgent review (r = 0.71, p < 0.001; Pearson). Patients categorised as "urgent" were more likely to have a breast biopsy compared to those categorised as "routine" (p < 0.0001; Chi2). The overall cancer incidence was 34 (3.3%) and significantly higher in the "urgent" group at 10.5%. NCCP guidelines were 91% sensitive for triaging breast cancer patients into the correct (urgent) category. The NCCP guidelines are accurate and should be considered the gold-standard for referral to the symptomatic breast service. Consideration should be given to a GP-delivered service to patients outside the "urgent" category.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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