We would like to help doctors diagnose cancer quickly so that potential high risk patients are detected sooner and unnecessary examinations are minimised for those patients that are low risk. - Dr Zishan Ali, GP at Wokingham Medical Centre.
Wokingham Medical Centre is leading the way in research that could help GPs spot cancer earlier and reduce the number of people undergoing unnecessary tests.
A total of 314 patients are currently taking part in the study at Wokingham Medical Centre, more than any other GP practice in England and Wales. The study aims to recruit a total of 20,000 patients by September 2016. To date, study teams around the country have recruited just over 8,800 participants.
The CANDID (CANcer DIagnosis Decision Rules) study is looking at common early symptoms, or combinations of symptoms, to identify which may be important for a possible diagnosis of lung or bowel cancer, and which are not. The study could thereby improve early detection of lung and bowel cancer in the UK, saving lives and leading to considerable long-term savings for the NHS.
The study is led nationally by the University of Southampton, in collaboration with the Universities of Bristol, Manchester, Oxford, London, Nottingham, Birmingham and Keele. It is being coordinated locally by the Primary Care Clinical Trials Unit in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.
Dr Zishan Ali is a GP and leads the study at the Wokingham Medical Centre. He said: “The majority of patients who come to their doctor with lung symptoms (for example cough) or bowel symptoms (for example loose stool) do not have anything seriously wrong. However, a very few people are at risk of cancer. We would like to help doctors diagnose cancer quickly so that potential high risk patients are detected sooner and unnecessary examinations are minimised for those patients that are low risk. This research is about finding what symptoms and examinations are best for predicting lung and bowel cancer.”
“We are delighted with the number of patients who have agreed to take part in the study so far, but there is still a long way to go. The information we need requires thousands and thousands of volunteers, which is why this study is so large. We are extremely grateful for our patients’ willingness to take part. Participation involves a single visit, so the time commitment for each individual patient is kept at a minimum. A medical notes review is carried out by the GP two years after the participant visit.”
In February 2015, Wokingham Medical Centre was accredited as a Research Ready practice by the prestigious Royal College of General Practice, in recognition of its commitment to innovate and experiment in the best interests of patient care. To a large extent, this was driven by Dr Ali’s passion for research. He said: “It is very satisfying to know that we are helping future generations of GPs to make better decisions, and future generations of patients to receive better care. Working in research also helps us to think outside the box. We have a very effective way of recruiting, based around a flexible consultations system. The majority of our routine patient consultations are now done over the phone. This frees up time for additional activities like research, and we are currently involved in eight different studies.”
In Oxfordshire, the Eynsham Medical Centre leads the region in patient recruit for CANDID, with a total of 229 patients recruited.
The study is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Primary Care Research (SPCR), and supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network: Thames Valley and South Midlands, the part of the NHS which supports local research delivery.
Find out more about CANDID