Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NHS cancer risk threshold 'too high' for patients, research indicates

Date:
January 14, 2014
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
Patients have expressed an appetite for potential cancer symptoms to be checked out much sooner than current NHS thresholds guidelines suggest, new research has revealed.

A study led by the University of Bristol, with colleagues at the University of Exeter Medical School and the University of Cambridge, found that 88 per cent of participants opted for further investigation, even if their symptoms carried just a one per cent risk of indicating cancer.

Related Articles


Although no fixed threshold is defined for the UK, in practice, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines suggest that patients need to have symptoms which indicate a five per cent risk or higher before further tests for most cancers are carried out.

In the UK, one in three people in the UK will develop cancer during their lifetime. Although cancer survival rates in the UK have improved in the past 15 years, it still lags behind average European figures. Earlier diagnosis is considered to be one of the main ways to improve UK survival, particularly by refining the selection of patients for cancer investigation.

The study, published in Lancet Oncology today asked 3,649 participants to fill in a total of 6,930 'vignettes' -- graphic analyses of symptoms which indicate particular types of cancer. Of those, 88 per cent opted for further investigation, even if there was only a low risk that the symptom could indicate cancer. In fact, there was only a slight rise in those who opted for investigation when the risk factor was higher than one per cent.

The research is part of the DISCOVERY Programme, a five-year initiative between six universities and the NHS which aims to transform the diagnosis of cancer and prevent hundreds of unnecessary deaths each year.

Dr Jonathan Banks, from the University of Bristol, said: "This large study provides a clear and comprehensive account of public preference for investigation for cancer. It shows for the first time that there's a strong preference for diagnostic cancer testing, even if the risk is very low. This desire far exceeds what is actually being offered by the NHS and we hope the findings can help policy makers and doctors in shaping guidelines and practice."

Participants cited peace of mind and the importance of early detection as their main reasons for wanting further testing to be carried out as soon as possible.

One of the study's main conclusions was that patients should be fully involved in the decision making process with their GP, talking about the risk of cancer and their preferences to ensure a more effective referral pathway.

Professor Willie Hamilton, of the University of Exeter Medical School, is a practising GP and is clinical lead for the 2012-5 update of the NICE referral guidelines for suspected cancer.

Professor Hamilton, co-author on the study, said: "One main reason for the UK's poor performance on cancer is that fewer patients with symptoms obtain an early diagnosis. Currently the NHS isn't offering cancer diagnostic testing at the level patients requested in this study. How this gap can be narrowed is a critical and compelling decision for the NHS as a whole."

Participants were sought from 26 general practices in three areas on England, ensuring a spread of urban, rural, wealthy and deprived locations. The patients, all aged over 40, were asked about their preferences for diagnostic testing for either colorectal, lung or pancreatic cancers.

The study highlighted that the factors which made people more likely to opt for further investigation were shorter travel times to the testing centre, a family history of cancer and higher household income. The type of test also affected choice with fewer choosing testing for colorectal cancer investigation at low risk which was thought to be due to the demanding nature of testing for colorectal cancer.

Age was also shown to have an effect. Participants aged 60-69 years were more likely to opt for investigation for all three cancers than those aged 40-59 years, while those aged over 70 -- the oldest group -- were least likely to want further testing.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Jonathan Banks, Sandra Hollinghurst, Lin Bigwood, Tim J Peters, Fiona M Walter, Willie Hamilton. Preferences for cancer investigation: a vignette-based study of primary-care attendees. The Lancet Oncology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/S1470-2045(13)70588-6

Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "NHS cancer risk threshold 'too high' for patients, research indicates." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114092138.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2014, January 14). NHS cancer risk threshold 'too high' for patients, research indicates. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114092138.htm
University of Bristol. "NHS cancer risk threshold 'too high' for patients, research indicates." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114092138.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) — Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) — A popular class of antibiotic can leave patients in severe pain and even result in permanent nerve damage. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) — The White House on Friday announced a five-year plan to fight the threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria amid fears that once-treatable germs could become deadly. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) — In rare bipartisan harmony, congressional leaders pushed a $214 billion bill permanently blocking physician Medicare cuts toward House passage Thursday, moving lawmakers closer to resolving a problem that has plagued them for years. (March 26) Video provided by AP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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