For the study, the academics used anonymous data from 564 GPs surgeries using the QResearch database system a not-for-profit partnership between The University of Nottingham and leading GPs systems supplier EMIS.
They included information for female patients aged 30 to 84 who had not previously been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and did not have one of a number of 'red flag' symptoms in the previous 12 months.
They assessed risk factors including age, family history, previous diagnosis of other forms of cancer, loss of appetite, weight loss, abdominal distension, rectal bleeding, postmenopausal bleeding and anaemia to predict which patients were most at risk of having ovarian cancer and combined these in the risk prediction algorithm.
The tool was successful in predicting 63 per cent of all ovarian cancers over the following two years which were in the top 10 per cent of women found to be most at risk.
In addition to detecting cancer at an earlier stage, the tool could help GPs to direct their scarce resources such as ultrasonography, MRI scans and blood tests, to the patients more urgently in need of further investigation.
It is in line with current Government policy and the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI) a public/third sector partnership between the Department of Health, National Cancer Action Team and Cancer Research UK.
The simple web-based calculator http://www.qcancer.org/ovary is designed for doctors but a simpler version could also be made available on the internet to raise awareness among the general public and to prompt women with risk factors or symptoms to seek advice from their doctor. It could also be integrated into GP clinical computer systems for use during the consultation or for identifying patients with combinations of symptoms needing further assessment.
|Contact: Emma Thorne|
University of Nottingham