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Pancreatic cancer often presents with vague and nonspecific symptoms; therefore, it can be difficult to know when to refer. A-typical symptom presentations are common. Being aware of the symptoms and your high-risk patients’ groups can guide your decision making.
If a patient presents to you with these symptoms, then consider pancreatic cancer. NICE guidelines for referral can identify patients whose referral is urgent.
Pancreatic cancer is often initially misdiagnosed. Common misdiagnosis includes gallstones, irritable bowel syndrome, pancreatitis, peptic ulcer, hepatitis and gastrointestinal reflux disease (GORD).
Studies have found that up to 31% of pancreatic cancer is initially misdiagnosed. Partially due to misdiagnosis, patients often require repeated primary care visits before diagnosis. If you see a patient with persistent symptoms, being treated for any of these conditions, consider pancreatic cancer.
If you are concerned about a patient, you may want to provide them with our symptoms diary to allow them to record their symptoms and whether or not any intervention you are trying is working. Your patient may remember their symptoms better if they can write them down and you can use the diary to establish a pattern of symptoms to guide diagnostics. This may also be helpful if your patient visits a number of different GPs in your practice.
Directing patients who are concerned about their symptoms to our website may be helpful so that they can understand whereabouts they are in their diagnosis and what they can expect to happen next.