Primary care physicians and oncologists are partners in cancer announcement
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The primary care physician (PCP) is central to cancer patients’ management. Announcement of the diagnosis is a critical time for patients, even if they wish to be fully informed. The French National Cancer Plan, developed 10 years ago, includes a diagnosis disclosure procedure (DDP) to be used by oncologists, which makes specific provision for a time of communication with PCPs. So, we asked PCPs about their role in cancer announcement since the launching of the DDP.
A cross-sectional prospective study by postal questionnaire was sent to 500 PCPs in the largest region of France. It addressed (1) the characteristics of cancer disclosure, (2) PCPs’ source of information of the diagnosis, (3) time of disclosure, (4) information exchange, and (5) the physicians’ knowledge of the DDP.
The response rate was 48 %. In 20 % of cases, oncologists delegated the announcement to PCPs. In 19 % of cases, it was the patient or their family who informed the PCP of the diagnosis. We identified three announcement phases of cancer diagnosis in the physicians’ clinical practice: pre-disclosure, disclosure, and repeat disclosure. In 57 % of cases, PCPs lacked information on prognosis and in 60 % on treatment. Regarding the DDP, nearly half of PCPs did not know the procedure itself or its content.
PCPs announce the cancer diagnosis, even if they have not received the necessary information to do so. The DDP needs to be adapted for use in primary care practice.
KeywordsGeneral practice Disclosure Cancer Diagnosis disclosure procedure Announcement National Cancer Plan
The Regional Union of Healthcare Professionals provided financial support for this study. We thank all the physicians who responded to the study.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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