GPs play a vital role in all aspects of cancer care. The opinion of the GP community is crucial to the work of the National Cancer Control Programme which was established in 2007 to implement the recommendations of the 2nd National Cancer Forum's report 'A Strategy for Cancer Control in Ireland 2006'.
In 2007, the ICGP published the findings of its survey of 1000 GPs 'Barriers to Early Diagnosis of Cancer in Primary Care: A Needs Assessment of GPs' (Daly and Collins, 2007). The Community Oncology Programme of the NCCP was established in 2008 and its key objectives were directly informed by the findings of this study.
The NCCP in association with the Irish College of General Practitioners and hospital based cancer specialists has, to date, developed national GP referral guidelines and pathways for suspected breast (2009), lung (2010) and prostate (2011) cancers and melanoma (2011); head and neck cancer referral advice for primary care was published in 2015; a GP referral guideline for suspected ovarian cancer will be implemented in 2016. These guidelines take account of existing published evidence –based referral guidelines and are applicable to the Irish healthcare setting and service configuration.
The NCCP in collaboration with the ICGP undertook this research to ascertain the experience of the GP community to date with the work of the NCCP and their opinion on the future priorities regarding cancer care.