13 May 2024

Primary care pathways aimed at identifying patients with possible cancer should have a specific screening system for myeloma, according to new recommendations.

The charity Myeloma UK says there is room to improve the non-specific symptom (NSS) pathways that GPs use when patients present with the kind of “vague” symptoms that can indicate the disease.

31% of myeloma patients are diagnosed as emergencies, according to the charity, and about a third visit their GP at least three times before getting a diagnosis.

Its new report, “A Myeloma UK Rapid Review of Non-Specific Symptom Pathways”, makes a series of proposals for improving the NSS pathways. Not all multidisciplinary teams that provide the pathways have an allocated haematologist, the report says.

Dr Stella Bowcock, haematologist at Kings College Hospital Foundation NHS Trust, says in the report: “MGUS/myeloma patients who are picked as a result of a filter function test in an NSS pathway won’t necessarily be new demand as these patients could potentially present in haematology at a later stage - although there may be new demand created in the follow up of MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of undermined significance) patients who never progress onto having myeloma.”

The report calls for educational support for GPs and healthcare professionals about myeloma diagnosis, NSS pathway awareness and interpretation of test results.

Sarah Galley, Senior Policy Officer at Myeloma UK, said: “Through our research, we found that there were variations in how the NSS pathways operate, and we’ve taken the learnings from this to shape our recommendations on how to make sure that the NSS pathways deliver for myeloma patients.

“The time for action is now so we are calling for our recommendations to be enacted across the 21 Cancer Alliances in England and by NHS England because we know that people with myeloma cannot wait.

“These recommendations can have a huge impact on improving early diagnosis. We will be meeting with key policymakers over the next year to talk about our report because together we can find ways to speed up diagnosis and reduce harmful delays.”

Source: Myeloma UK

Link: https://www.myeloma.org.uk/library/myeloma-uk-rapid-review-of-non-specific-symptom-pathways/


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