Investigation of potential for using point of care tests for early cancer diagnosis in primary care (PhD)

Start Date Sep 2018

Code L2-C, PhD

Status Ongoing

Project Lead
Senior Lead
Supervisors: Dr Samuel Smith, Dr Michael Messenger (both Leeds), Prof Matthew Thompson (Washington)


Early cancer diagnosis is associated with better survival rates and health outcomes. Currently United Kingdom (UK) cancer survival rates need to be elevated and this can be achieved by improving diagnostic pathways and reducing missed diagnosis. Primary care is usually the first point of contact for patients with symptoms suspicious of cancer, which is where the availability of efficient, rapid diagnostic cancer tests, at the ‘point of care’, can expedite diagnosis and support timely triaging of patients.

While there may be potential for point of care tests (POCTs) to help achieve earlier cancer diagnosis, adaption in primary care is generally low or non-existent. Reasons for this include lack of evidence to support the utility, feasibility, patient clinician/acceptability and broader impact of incorporating POCTs in general practice for diagnosing cancer.

The aim of this PhD is to address these questions by exploring the potential for using POCTs for detecting cancer in primary care.

Aims & objectives

This project aims to:


This project consists of (i) a systematic scoping review to identify the availability of POCTs for cancer (ii) two mixed methods studies (questionnaire and semi-structured interviews) regarding acceptability and feasibility of incorporating POCTs for cancer with clinicians’ and patients’ and (iii) development of a framework to guide industry and policymakers on requirements for cancer POCTs intended for use in primary care.

Outputs & impact

This project will enable understanding of why POCTs for cancer are not incorporated in current cancer diagnostic pathways and what the benefits and harms of doing so will be from both clinicians’ and patients’ perspectives.

Findings of this PhD may lead to the possibility of adopting of POCTs in diagnostic pathways in primary care and will highlight the necessary requisites for the incorporation of these test for cancer diagnostics.

Next steps

We are working on the mixed methods study to understand patient views on POCTs for cancer.

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