Doctors know early cancer screening saves lives but there’s one problem they haven’t solved: patients don’t always take the test in time.
Researchers at The University of Melbourne may have an answer and it’s simpler than anyone thought.
Traditionally, health bodies have relied on large-scale campaigns to promote early intervention, usually requiring significant government funding.
While such methods will remain important, The University of Melbourne team, together with partners at the University of Western Australia, found smaller-scale interventions could be effective.
In a study of heavy smokers, the team found those who attended a special consultation to discuss signs of early stage lung cancer were 40 per cent more likely to consult a doctor regarding such symptoms over the following year.
Lead author Professor Jon Emery says the results suggests the method should be further explored.
“A behavioural intervention like this can significantly increase consulting for respiratory symptoms in patients at increased risk of lung cancer, providing more opportunities for doctors to identify and diagnose lung cancer earlier in these high-risk patients,” Professor Emery says.
“GPs arming patients with more information could have an important role in primary care as part of a broader approach to improve respiratory health in patients at higher risk.”
“This targeted approach could be an alternative to mass-media symptom awareness campaigns.”
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