Researchers examined how accurately cases of cancer were recorded in electronic records taken from five general practices in Leeds.
Paper notes and data on prescriptions for cancer drugs were analysed to identify cancer cases.
Over the 10-year study period, a total of 1,741 patients were diagnosed with cancer.
But when they looked at the electronic records they found that only 19.3 per cent of them correctly recorded a diagnosis of cancer.
In one practice, 57 per cent of electronic notes failed to correctly record a diagnosis of cancer.
The researchers, from the Universities of Cardiff, Leeds and Hull, warn that patients will suffer poor quality care during a consultation if their GP fails to identify that they have been diagnosed with cancer.
Hull GP Dr Nick Summerton, who has an interest in cancer, said: ‘Electronic records are often inaccurate in other key areas such as cardiovascular disease history, symptom history, immunisations and family history.
‘But I am a little surprised that such inaccuracy also applies to a key area such as cancer and it is a concern.'
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