Cancer calculator helps GPs spot disease at early stage

A tool to predict patients' risk of cancer could be integrated into GP computer systems to improve early diagnosis, res­earchers have suggested.

Colon cancer: diagnosis boost (Photograph: SPL)
Colon cancer: diagnosis boost (Photograph: SPL)
The QCancer calculator has been expanded and can now predict colorectal and pancrea­tic cancers, as well as lung, ova­rian, gastro-oesophageal and renal cancers.

The University of Nottingham team that developed the web-based tool believe it could be used in consultations to ass­ess cancer risk in symptomatic patients.

‘It could also be integrated into GP computer systems to generate a list of high-risk patients who could be recalled for further inve­stigation,’ they said. ‘A modified version of the web calculator could be used by patients to prompt symptomatic or high-risk patients to attend their GP.’

Researchers led by Dr Julia Hippisley-Cox and Dr Carol Coupland found that QCancer could identify the 10% of people most at risk of the cancers.

These patients accounted for 71% of new colorectal cancers and 62% of new pancreatic cancers. The researchers looked at 3.6m patient records and rec­orded cancer diagnoses among pat­ients aged 30 to 84 years of age. Over two years, 4,798 cases of colorectal cancer and 1,415 cases of pancreatic cancer were diagnosed.

The team compared cancer diagnoses with incidence of risk factors such as age, BMI, smoking status and family history of cancer.

Stephen Robinson

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