The effectiveness of the Guy’s Rapid Diagnostic Clinic (RDC) in detecting cancer and serious conditions in vague symptom patients

Saoirse Olivia Dolly*, Geraint Jones, Paula Allchorne, Daniel Wheeler, Sunnyath Ali, Yaseen Mukadam, Sifan Zheng, Loay Rahman, Jan Sindhar, Charlotte Louise Moss, Danielle Harari, Mieke Van Hemelrijck, Anthony Cunliffe, Luigi Vincenzo De Michele

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Rapid Diagnostic Clinics (RDC) are being expanded nationally by NHS England. Guy’s RDC established a pathway for GPs and internal referrals for patients with symptoms concerning for malignancy not suitable for a site-specific 2WW referral. However, little data assessing the effectiveness of RDC models are available in an English population. Methods: We evaluated all patients referred to Guy’s RDC between December 2016 and June 2019 (n = 1341) to assess the rate of cancer diagnoses, frequency of benign conditions and effectiveness of the service. Results: There were 96 new cancer diagnoses (7.2%): lung (16%), haematological (13%) and colorectal (12%)—with stage IV being most frequent (40%). Median time to definitive cancer diagnosis was 28 days (IQR 15–47) and treatment 56 days (IQR 32–84). In all, 75% were suitable for treatment: surgery (26%), systemic (24%) and radiotherapy (14%). Over 180 serious non-neoplastic conditions were diagnosed (35.8%) of patients with no significant findings in two-third of patients (57.0%). Conclusions: RDCs provide GPs with a streamlined pathway for patients with complex non-site-specific symptoms that can be challenging for primary care. The 7% rate of cancer diagnosis exceeds many 2WW pathways and a third of patients presented with significant non-cancer diagnoses, which justifies the need for rapid diagnostics. Rapid Diagnostic Centres (RDCs) are being rolled out nationally by NHS England and NHS Improvement as part of the NHS long-term plan. The aim is for a primary care referral pathway that streamlines diagnostics, patient journey, clinical outcomes and patient experience. This pilot study of 1341 patients provides an in-depth analysis of the largest single RDC in England. Cancer was diagnosed in 7% of patients and serious non-cancer conditions in 36%—justifying the RDC approach in vague symptom patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1079-1087
Number of pages9
JournalBritish journal of cancer
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2021


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