One in 10 brain tumour sufferers see their GP eight times before referred to specialist

One in ten brain tumour sufferers see their GP eight times before they are referred to a specialist with a quarter visiting their family doctor four times.

The Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust, which carried out the research, warned that it had heard of patients being forced to buy their own brain scans, at a cost of hundreds of pounds, to prove to their GPs that they had the disease.

Almost one in three of those surveyed waited more than three months before they were diagnosed.

The charity warns that early diagnosis is crucial in the condition, which is often deadly.

Even if a patient’s life cannot be saved, early diagnosis and treatment can give them longer to spend with their loved ones.

And for those who do survive speedy treatment can cut their chances of suffering long-term disability.

In one of the largest surveys of its kind, the Trust asked 350 brain tumour patients how they had been diagnosed.

Brain tumours can be difficult to identify because the common symptoms, which include headaches, fits and vomiting, could be indicative of a number of other conditions.

The charity is calling for an end to the “gate keeping” approach to carrying out brain scans.

Patients with persistent symptoms that could suggest that they have a brain tumour should be given the scan to offer “positive reassurance” that they do not have the disease, said Paul Carbury, chief executive of the trust.

The charity is also drawing up a guide to symptoms for GPs which they plan to launch later this year.

Mr Carbury added: “These results confirm that we still need to educate the public and the primary health care professionals about this devastating illness and make them aware of the recurring warning signs.”

He added: “If ‘red-flag’ symptoms persist for around two weeks … then individuals should be referred for a scan as only this will confirm the presence of a brain tumour.

“Early diagnosis is critical as the quicker a tumour is identified, the more readily treatment can be administered which can then have a positive effect on the prognosis, quality of life and likelihood and burden of disability.

“Early diagnosis would also reduce the chance of emergency admissions where people are presenting at accident and emergency departments, for example, in a critical condition.”

An estimated 6,500 people a year in Britain are diagnosed with a primary brain tumour, that is a cancer that starts in the brain rather than one that begins in another part of the body and spreads.

Brain cancer are extremely deadly and around 3,400 lives a year are lost to the disease in Britain.

Brain tumours are the leading cause of cancer deaths in children and also cause more deaths in the under 40s than any other type of cancer.

While other cancer survival rates have increased in recent years, those of brain cancer, often described as the “forgotten cancer”, have barely changed over the past three decades.

Around 8,000 people a year in Britain suffer from cancer which spreads to their brain.


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