GPs having patients who have a persistent sore throat, combined with shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing or earache, should consider cancer as the cause, according to to new research.
Currently, it is recommended that patients with persistent hoarseness or an unexplained neck lump be investigated for throat or laryngeal cancer.
However, Cancer Research UK's Weilin Wu said patients should not be alarmed.
" "Said Throat on its own not linked to laryngeal cancer," he said. "
" But importantly, this study also provides the best evidence to date on the current recommendation to refer to patients with persistent hoarseness. "[1
In the UK, there are about 2,000 new cases of laryngeal cancer each year.
The research, published by the University of Exeter, looked at more than 600 GP practices and studied 806 patients diagnosed with cancer of the larynx and 3,559 control patients. It is published in the British Journal of General Practice.
Lead author Dr Elizabeth Shephard said it may be important for laryngeal cancer.
"The significance of the laryngeal cancer is greatly increased when it is combined with a recurrent sore throat," she said.  Laryngeal cancer
- More common in men
- Early diagnosis improves outcomes
- Radiotherapy, surgery and chemotherapy are the main treatments
- If the cancer is advanced, the patient may
- These patients will no longer be able to breathe in the usual way
- They will breathe through a permanent hole in their stomachs and will need additional
- Source: NHS Choices
One of the study authors, Prof. Will he Hamilton, the clinical lead for the current guidelines from The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
He said their research is important because it has "shown the potential severity of some symptom combinations previously thought to be low risk."
"When NICE guidance for cancer research is published, there is no evidence from GP practices to guide this – nor to inform GPs," he said.
But they are not talking about any sore throat – "the sore throat has to be significant enough to go to the GP".
"GPs are already unusual because of it's gone outside the patient's norms."
Dr Shephard said the study will feed into the NICE guidelines when they are updated ,
"It's vital for selecting the right patients for referral."