Many patients are likely to be aware of the NICE guidelines for the recognition and referral of suspected cancer. Certainly, public health campaigns and the media have helped to educate patients on potential early warning signs for cancer.
As such, some patients may come in specifically asking to be referred under the two-week rule for further investigation. However, others may have no idea that their chronic cough or postmenopausal bleeding could be a symptom of cancer and might be shocked when a two-week referral is mentioned.
This is a sensitive area to tread, and even more important for locum GPs, who may be seeing the patient for the first time and be unaware of significant family history or the loss of a previous partner or friend to cancer.