Royal college defends labs' restrictions on GP cancer tests

Pathologists have hit back at GPs' claims that labs have refused to provide checks for ovarian cancer and warned that CA125 blood tests must not be used for screening.

Pathologists said blood tests for ovarian cancer are an 'imperfect marker' and should not be used for screening (Photo: PhotoDisc)
Pathologists said blood tests for ovarian cancer are an 'imperfect marker' and should not be used for screening (Photo: PhotoDisc)

The Royal College of Pathologists said the use of demand management tools by some laboratories was 'entirely reasonable' to stop inappropriate testing.

GPs had complained that test requests are being 'bounced back' by labs that suspect the tests are being used for screening.

A spokeswoman for the college said: 'The use of serum CA125 testing for ovarian cancer needs careful consideration given that it is an imperfect marker with a significant false positive and false negative rate.

'It should only be used as a first line test for diagnostic purposes in women presenting with symptoms as outlined in NICE guidance on ovarian cancer.'

She added that CA125 should not be used to screen asymptomatic women.

'The use of demand management tools, used by some laboratories, to minimise such inappropriate testing is entirely reasonable as inappropriate use of tumour marker tests can do more harm than good when used on the wrong patient.

'False reassurance as well as inappropriate referral or subsequent unnecessary investigations are the main drawbacks which can cause delays in correct diagnosis and unnecessary distress for patients. It is vital that individual laboratories work with GPs to ensure optimum use of the CA125 test.'

A major study of the diagnosis of ovarian cancer in the NHS found one in 10 GPs had requests for vital diagnostic tests refused in the past year.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Subject access requests to GP practices increased by a third under GDPR

Subject access requests to GP practices increased by a third under GDPR

The number of subject access requests (SARs) GP practices receive each month has...

RCGP criticises GP at Hand video showing antibiotics prescribed for sore throat

RCGP criticises GP at Hand video showing antibiotics prescribed for sore throat

A promotional video for Babylon GP at Hand that shows a patient with a sore throat...

Review into overprescribing aims to give GPs power to challenge hospital scrips

Review into overprescribing aims to give GPs power to challenge hospital scrips

A government review of overprescribing in the NHS could see GPs given more power...

Submit your session ideas for the RCGP Annual Conference 2019

Submit your session ideas for the RCGP Annual Conference 2019

GPs can now submit ideas for sessions at the RCGP Annual Conference in Liverpool,...

Scottish GP workforce increases for first time in 10 years, figures show

Scottish GP workforce increases for first time in 10 years, figures show

GP numbers in Scotland have risen slightly for the first time in 10 years despite...

More than 16m GP practice appointments a year lost to DNAs

More than 16m GP practice appointments a year lost to DNAs

More than 16m appointments at GP practices are lost every year because patients fail...