Patient involvement in diagnosing cancer in primary care

Lead: Dr Jane Heyhoe / Professor Rebecca Lawton

Collaborators: Professor Ian Watt (University of York)


Diagnostic delay can have a serious impact on treatment options and outcomes for patients with cancer. Researchers and policy makers suggest that patients could play an important role in helping to achieve a quicker cancer diagnosis by assisting with the follow-up and review of symptoms. Recent National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines for recognition and referral of suspected cancer also advocates that patients should be involved in safety netting when symptoms may potentially be due to cancer. While there is increasing interest in the role that patients may have in reducing diagnostic delay, there is currently very little research on this topic.


We are currently undertaking a small project to examine whether interventions that involve patients in cancer diagnosis in primary care are acceptable to all stakeholders and to assess and identify the types of interventions that have the potential to become a sustainable component of standard care and improve the diagnosis of cancer in a primary care setting. In order to do this, we will interview patients who have received a cancer diagnosis, GPs and Nurse Practitioners and hold focus groups with stakeholders.


  1. Heyhoe, J., Reynolds, C., Dunning, A., Johnson, O., Howat, A., & Lawton, R. (2018). Patient involvement in diagnosing cancer in primary care: a systematic review of current interventions. Br J Gen Pract68(668),
  2.  Heyhoe J, Reynolds C, Lawton R. How acceptable is patient involvement in the early diagnosis of cancer in primary care and how might it be done? A qualitative exploration with primary care stakeholders. British Journal of General Practice