EMIS Health have developmed a web calculator to more accurately predict the chances of bowel cancer survival in conjunction with the University of Nottingham and using data from QResearch.
Intended for use by GPs and patients the new tool could help people make more informed decisions around treatment and to manage expectations following diagnosis. It also allows patients to update their mortality risk based on how long they have survived after their diagnosis.
The research to test the accuracy of the new calculator has recently been published in the British Medical Journal and it demonstrates that the tool can reliably predict both absolute survival rates for men and women.
Developed by Professors Julia Hippisley-Cox and Carol Coupland from the University’s School of Medicine and ClinRisk Ltd, the tool used QResearch – a bank of anonymised patient data from approximately 1500 general practices across England using EMIS Health’s clinical computer systems linked to the national cancer registry.
According to Professor Hippisley-Cox, current methods of estimating survival tend to be unreliable and sometimes patients can be given a fairly misleading and unnecessarily gloomy prognosis based only on the grade and stage of their cancer then can actually go on to live much longer. This new calculator which can be accessed by doctors and patients, will offer a far more realistic estimate.
The new tool looks not only at the traditional measures based on simple averages based on age or the grade and stage of the cancer in the wider population, but also at a range of personal risk factors including the patient’s family history, smoking history, body mass index and other illnesses and treatments. It also includes other information like surgeries or treatments such as chemotherapy in order to deliver a more personalised prognosis.
Having used information from more than 44,000 patients across 947 practices to develop separate equations for men and women aged between 15 and 99 years old when diagnosed with bowel cancer, the team will adapt the new web calculator to predict prognosis in other types of cancers in the future.