A simple online calculator could offer family GPs a powerful new tool in tackling two of the most deadly forms of cancer, say researchers.
Academics from The University of Nottingham and ClinRisk Ltd have developed two new QCancer algorithms, which cross-reference symptoms and risk factors of patients to red flag those most likely to have pancreatic and bowel cancer, which could help doctors to diagnose these illnesses more quickly and potentially save thousands of lives every year.
Leading the research, Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox in the University's Division of Primary Care, said: "We hope these new tools will help GPs with the difficult task of identifying patients with suspected cancer earlier and that this in turn could help improve treatment options and outcomes for patients."
Pancreatic cancer, which affects more than 8,000 people in the UK every year, has the worst survival rate for any cancer almost three-quarters of patients die within a year of diagnosis. Catching the disease in the early stages can offer a more optimistic prognosis for patients however, with very few established risk factors and no reliable screening test available, it is also one of the toughest cancers for GPs to spot.
The research, published in the January edition of the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP), used patient data from 564 GPs practices to develop the algorithm and test its success at predicting which patients were likely to have pancreatic cancer, based on a combination of symptoms such as weight loss, appetite loss, and abdominal pain and risk factors such as age, chronic pancreatitis, smoking and diabetes.
It was successful in predicting 62 per cent of all pancreatic cancers diagnosed over the following two years which were in the top 10 per cent of patients predicted to be most at risk.
Colorectal cancer, or bowel cancer, is the second most common cancer in Europe as well as the second most com
|Contact: Emma Thorne|
University of Nottingham