Non-Specific Symptom Pathway
- Set up for patients who presented with non-specific symptoms that could indicate several different cancers but didn’t have an established effective referral pathway.
- As a result, these patients often went back and forth between primary and secondary care which lead to delays in diagnosis, higher rates of late stage and/or emergency presentation and poorer outcomes for the patient.
- Since 2019, new NSS services have been rolled out across England including the South West to provide a dedicated urgent diagnostic pathway for this cohort of patients.
Core Referral Criteria
NSS pathways are intended to cover the cohort of patients who do not fit into a single ‘urgent cancer’ referral pathway, as defined by NG12, but who are, nonetheless, at risk of being diagnosed with cancer.
Symptoms include unexplained weight loss, fatigue, abdominal pain or nausea; and / or GP ‘gut feeling’ about cancer. Historically, this cohort of patients often:
- Saw their GP multiple times before referral
- Presented more often in an emergency setting
- Presented with late-stage cancer and
- Were referred on multiple urgent pathways
Filter Function Tests
Filter function tests should be used prior to referral in order to:
- Support GPs to refer patients via the most appropriate route ( i.e. nonspecific symptoms or site specific), leading to a higher referral quality
- Reduce the risk of test duplication later in a patients pathway
- Ensure all necessary pre-investigation testing has been completed, removing potential delays further along the pathway.