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WICKED / ThinkCancer!

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North Wales Centre for Primary Care Research, Wrexham (part of Bangor University)

Type of research

Health Systems and Outcomes Research

Type of cancer

All cancers

Wales is amongst the lowest performing countries in Europe for cancer survival. As most cancer patients will visit their GP with symptoms before being referred on to specialist secondary care, GPs represent a key step on the cancer journey.

This Cancer Research Wales funded work comprised two parts. The WICKED (Wales Interventions for Cancer Knowledge and Early Diagnosis) programme first sought to understand the knowledge and behaviours towards cancer of GPs and their practice staff, before using this information to develop a workshop to drive improvements in cancer care.

The team in Wrexham conducted surveys and interviews with GPs and practice staff from around Wales. They discovered that while most GPs felt confident in dealing with patients with ‘red flag’ cancer symptoms, this was not the case for patients with vague symptoms, such as unexplained weight loss. They also found that the application of guidelines for referrals of cancer was not uniform across GPs in Wales. 

With this information, the team designed a three-part workshop to address their findings – this consisted of training for GPs around cancer diagnosis, a cancer awareness session for all practice staff and the implementation of safety netting procedures.

The team delivered their workshops to 19 GP practices, with excellent feedback. Every practice had action points to take forward in order to ensure the best standard of care for their patients.

Now, Cancer Research Wales are funding the team to conduct a Phase III clinical trial of the ThinkCancer! workshops across Wales and North West England, to prove the effectiveness of their intervention. This will hopefully provide the evidence to roll ThinkCancer! out nationally, ensuring patients across Wales can access gold standard cancer care.

Team involved

Professor Clare Wilkinson

North Wales Centre for Primary Care Research, Wrexham (part of Bangor University)