Features of childhood cancer in primary care: a population-based nested case-control study.
British Journal of Cancer
Cancer Research UK
This is the final version of the article. Available from Cancer Research UK via the DOI in this record.
BACKGROUND: This study investigated the risk of cancer in children with alert symptoms identified in current UK guidance, or with increased consultation frequency in primary care. METHODS: A population-based, nested case-control study used data from the General Practice Research Database. In all, 1267 children age 0-14 years diagnosed with childhood cancer were matched to 15,318 controls. Likelihood ratios and positive predictive values (PPVs) were calculated to assess risk. RESULTS: Alert symptoms recorded in the 12 and 3 months before diagnosis were present in 33.7% and 27.0% of cases vs 5.4% and 1.4% of controls, respectively. The PPV of having cancer for any alert symptom in the 3 months before diagnosis was 0.55 per 1000 children. Cases consulted more frequently particularly in the 3 months before diagnosis (86% cases vs 41% controls). Of these, 36% of cases and 9% of controls had consulted 4 times or more. The PPV for cancer in a child consulting 4 times or more in 3 months was 0.13 per 1000 children. CONCLUSION: Alert symptoms and frequent consultations are associated with childhood cancer. However, individual symptoms and consultation patterns have very low PPVs for cancer in primary care (e.g., of 10,000 children with a recorded alert symptom, approximately 6 would be diagnosed with cancer within 3 months).
RMD is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). WH was part funded by a NIHR postdoctoral fellowship. This study is based on data from the Full Feature General Practice Research Database (GPRD) obtained under licence from the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). However, the interpretation and conclusions contained in this study are those of the author/s alone. Access to the GPRD was funded through the Medical Research Council (MRC) licence agreement with the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Vol. 106, pp. 982 - 987
Place of publication