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Cancer care: what role for the general practitioner?

Jon D Emery
Med J Aust 2008; 189 (9): 535.
Published online: 3 November 2008

To the Editor: The 21 July 2008 “general practice” issue of the Journal raises a number of important issues about the future of generalist medical care, including the role of the general practitioner in the care of cancer patients. The editorial by Weller and Harris acknowledges the importance of multidisciplinary teams, including the full gamut of primary care practitioners, in meeting the diverse needs of people with cancer, from diagnosis to long-term “survivorship”.1 Jiwa et al propose a new model of an “integrated primary care hub” — with a “cancer care coordinator” — as a possible solution to the challenges of providing good team-based care.2 However, creating an entirely new disease-centred role would seem to ignore much of the debate in the rest of the general practice issue. Multiple morbidity is an emerging reality in Australia, and it is a fact that many survivors of cancer will die from other chronic conditions. Disease-specific care coordinators are currently being promoted as the new model for delivering chronic disease management to the community, but how many of these care coordinators will be needed for patients such as those described by Britt et al?3 And who will coordinate the coordinators?

  • Jon D Emery

  • School of Primary, Aboriginal and Rural Health Care, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA.

Correspondence: jon.emery@uwa.edu.au

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