THOUSANDS of family doctors are to be given free books to help them spot head and neck cancer in a bid to drive up diagnosis rates.

The guides aim to help doctors spot the different types of cancer that can occur in the head and neck – from more than 30 sites where the disease can start.

The books have been created by the British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (BAOMS) and Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

Each of the UK’s 9,400 GP practices will get a copy, highlighting key signs to look out for and how to refer patients quickly. Alex Goodson, a specialist registrar in oral and maxillofacial surgery at the Morriston Hospital near Swansea in Wales, co-wrote the book.

He said: “This is an invaluable resource for medical students and those in an established practice. The book is specifically designed to inform primary care clinicians about an area of healthcare that many may have had little training in.

“The treatment algorithms in the toolkit mean GPs will be able to recognise sinister features more easily, and make earlier referrals. I believe this will save lives and mean less aggressive, longer-term therapy for patients.”