Evaluation of risk assessment tools for suspected cancer in general practice: a cohort study
British Journal of General Practice
Royal College of General Practitioners
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Under indefinite embargo due to publisher policy. The final version is available from Royal College of General Practitioners via the DOI in this record.
Diagnostic delay is deemed to account for an estimated 5000 to 10 000 extra cancer deaths each year in the UK. Many cancer patients do not have symptoms meeting national referral criteria for rapid investigation. Risk assessment tools (RATs) have been developed to assist GPs in selecting patient for cancer investigation. To assess the usability and acceptability of lung and colorectal RATs, as well as subsequent resource use and cancer diagnoses. Cohort study with nested qualitative study with 614 GPs from 165 practices in seven English cancer networks were provided with RATs applicable to patients aged ≥40 years with bowel or respiratory symptoms. In-depth interviews were conducted with 34 individuals (11 project managers and 23 GPs). The study measured the number of RATs used, and subsequent cancer investigations and diagnoses, over a 6-month period and compared these with the previous 6 months. A total of 2593 RATs (1160 lung, 1433 colorectal) were completed. Compared with the preceding 6 months, there were 292 more chest X-rays, 104 extra 2-week chest clinic appointments, and 47 additional diagnoses of lung cancer. For suspected colorectal cancer, there were 304 more 2-week referrals, 270 more colonoscopies, and 10 more cancers identified. RATs appeared to help GPs in their selection of patients for cancer investigation. Users reported that RATs helped to confirm a need for investigation as well as allowing reassurance when investigation was not needed. Use of RATs in primary care was accompanied by increased diagnostic activity and additional cancer diagnoses.
National Cancer Action Team.
Copyright © British Journal of General Practice 2013