Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Simple test to help diagnose bowel and pancreatic cancer could save thousands of lives

Date:
December 14, 2011
Source:
University of Nottingham
Summary:
A simple online calculator could offer family GPs a powerful new tool in tackling two of the most deadly forms of cancer, say researchers.

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 common cause of cancer-related death. In the UK, 16,500 people die every year from bowel cancer and 36,000 people develop the disease. The UK has one of the poorest survival rates for bowel cancer in Europe, which is thought to be largely due to late presentation, delays in diagnosis and delays in treatment. Swift diagnosis can make all the difference -- among patients where the disease is diagnosed early, the five year survival rate can be as high as 90 per cent.

Many of the major symptoms, such as rectal bleeding, weight loss, appetite loss, diarrhea, constipation or abdominal pain are very common and can more often be linked to other less serious conditions, presenting GPs with a diagnostic challenge.

Based on using single 'red flag' symptoms such as rectal bleeding, doctors could miss 60 per cent of current bowel cancers.

For the research, published in the same edition of the BJGP, academics used anonymous data from the same 564 GP surgeries to develop and test the colorectal cancer algorithm by looking at a combination of risk factors, including age, family history of bower cancer, anemia, symptoms including rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, appetite loss, weight loss, diarrhea and changes in bowel habits. The researchers also took into account the different risks affecting men and women.

The study found that the algorithm was very successful in spotting which patients would be most likely to develop bowel cancer over the following two years -- 70 per cent of all bowel cancer patients subsequently diagnosed were in the top 10 per cent of patients predicted to be most at risk, The two studies used the anonymous data of patients aged between 30 and 84 years old who were all free from diagnosis or symptoms of the two cancers over the previous 12 months. The GPs' practices were all contributing to the QResearch® database system -- a not-for-profit partnership between The University of Nottingham and leading GP systems supplier EMIS.

The new algorithms for pancreatic and bowel cancer could be incorporated into existing GP computer systems to alert doctors to patients who are potentially most at risk of developing the diseases.

They could support the work of GPs in reducing diagnosis times 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. Evidence suggests that simply raising awareness of symptoms and speeding up diagnosis could save 5,000 lives per year without any new advances in medicine.

The study has resulted in two simple web calculators -- one for pancreatic cancer (http://www.qcancer.org/pancreas/) and one for bowel cancer (http://www.qcancer.org/colorectal) -- which are 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 patients with risk factors or symptoms to seek advice from their doctor.

Similar QResearch® scores have already proven effective in previous research in identifying patients at most risk of developing lung cancer, gastro-esophageal cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, fractures, kidney disease and serious blood clots.

Dr Clare Gerada, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, which publishes the BJGP, said: "Early diagnosis, and access to appropriate diagnostic tests and tools, can make an enormous difference to the treatment and outcomes of patients with cancer and this new calculator, which is concerned with two of the most deadly forms of cancer, has the potential to save many lives.

"Professor Hippisley-Cox and her colleagues at The University of Nottingham are leading the way in devising simple but effective ways to help GPs speed up and improve their identification and diagnosis of cancer, and they should be rightly proud of this new research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Nottingham. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Nottingham. "Simple test to help diagnose bowel and pancreatic cancer could save thousands of lives." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111214094847.htm>.
University of Nottingham. (2011, December 14). Simple test to help diagnose bowel and pancreatic cancer could save thousands of lives. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111214094847.htm
University of Nottingham. "Simple test to help diagnose bowel and pancreatic cancer could save thousands of lives." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111214094847.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — You're more likely to gain weight while watching action flicks than you are watching other types of programming, says a new study published in JAMA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) — Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) — New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins