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Cancer diagnosis decision rules

This study seeks to work out which symptoms and examination findings are the most effective in predicting lung or colon cancer. To decide the best clinical information to collect in the study we will interview patients and also get consensus from a group of experts. Then we will recruit 20,000 patients who consult their GP - half with lung symptoms and the other half with low bowel symptoms.


In primary care the key areas of concern for both doctor and patients are delay in diagnosing cancer, getting high risk patients referred first, and keeping investigation to a minimum. Observational studies based on routine data have the great advantage of efficiently identifying  possible ‘signals’ for cancer but given the limitations of possible differential recording of clinical data by GPs, such studies make it difficult to adequately quantify the importance of individual variables and their possible weighting – and so make it very difficult to develop valid Clinical Prediction Rules (CPR).

There is promising research for two of the most common cancers seen in primary care (Lung and Colon) which suggest CPRs for these cancers should be possible but, again, there are significant limitations to these data.

Study Design: Multicentre observational study based on data of prospective cohorts
Sponsor: University of Southampton
Ethical Approval: REC No: 12/SC/0328
Chief Investigator:  Professor Paul Little (University of Southampton)
Contact Details: