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Driving diagnosis: Myeloma UK unites with expert group to deliver GP early diagnosis tool

Myeloma UK news // 24th September 2020

Myeloma UK has developed and launched a GP Diagnostic Tool to help deliver more timely diagnoses for myeloma patients.

As part of the Myeloma UK Early Diagnosis Programme, Myeloma UK have been engaging with GPs, laboratory scientists and secondary care specialists to better understand where delays occur in myeloma diagnosis and how best to address some of these issues. Myeloma is a cancer for which GPs can facilitate diagnosis, if armed with clear awareness of the signs, symptoms, and correct tests to request. Clear communication between primary care and the laboratory to ensure confident interpretation of test results was identified as an area where more guidance was needed. Clarity on when and how urgently to refer patients was also highlighted by both primary and secondary care clinicians.

Addressing this, the GP Diagnostic Tool aims to act as a summary for primary care clinicians to help guide the diagnostic process and management of patients presenting with suspected myeloma. The traffic light system is used routinely in primary care to give a clear indication of how urgently to refer patients based on initial primary care tests. The ultimate aim is for this tool to be incorporated into the reporting system of laboratories involved in the diagnosis of myeloma. This will ensure GPs have a standardised way of interpreting results and consistency in decision-making, reducing the pressure on secondary care while giving GPs the confidence to monitor the lower risk patients.

Launching the GP Diagnostic Tool, Dr Suzanne Renwick, Healthcare Professional Projects Manager at Myeloma UK said: “This new at-a-glance diagnostic tool assists GPs in interpreting blood test results and guides them on referral routes for further investigation. This is part of a wider Myeloma UK initiative to address the barriers to diagnosis and reduce the delays that are sadly the experience for too many patients.”

Dr Fenella Willis (Consultant Haematologist, St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) said: “It is well recognised that the interpretation of specialist myeloma laboratory tests can be challenging for GPs. This can result in inadvertent delays in the referral pathway. The GP diagnostic tool aims to make the interpretation of results clearer and help support GPs to recognise when to refer.”

Improving the earlier diagnosis of myeloma in patients is a key focus for Myeloma UK. One of the biggest difficulties in myeloma diagnosis is that many of the symptoms are non-specific, overlap with a number of different conditions and can seem unconnected. This can often result in a delayed diagnosis and for many patients it can take up to six months from first presenting before a diagnosis is made. An early diagnosis enables treatment to begin in a timely manner and before late stage complications arise, which can improve survival and the overall quality of life for patients. It is therefore vital that primary care clinicians are able to access the correct tools to enable them to diagnose myeloma as soon as possible.

 The tool is available to download here and hard copies in bookmark format will also be available upon request soon.

If you have any further queries please contact earlydiagnosis@myeloma.org.uk