Value of 'red flag' symptoms confirmed

Red flag symptoms are important for predicting the likely presence of a serious illness, researchers have shown.

Professor Roger Jones from King's College London his team looked at diagnoses associated with four alarm symptoms (haematuria, haemoptysis, dysphagia and rectal bleeding). Their findings are reported online in the BMJ this week.

The group examined data from 762,000 patients from 128 general practices in the UK. They found that the four alarm symptoms possessed ‘reasonable predictive value' for serious illness.

They suggest that patients presenting with haematuria, haemoptysis, dysphagia and rectal bleeding merit timely investigation for non-cancer diagnoses and potential cancer diagnoses, rather than watchful waiting.


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