Bowel cancer survival – would you take THIS test to extend your life?
Patients with bowel cancer could soon more accurately predict their chances of survival.
A new web calculator developed by academics at The University of Nottingham and medical software company ClinRisk Ltd, can help people make informed decisions about treatment after their diagnosis.
Experts said the tool can reliably predict both absolute survival rates for men and women with colorectal cancer.
The calculator also allows patients to update their mortality risk based on how long they have survived following a diagnosis of cancer.
The tool was developed by Professors Julia Hippisley-Cox and Carol Coupland in the University’s School of Medicine using the QResearch database.
This gathers patient data from approximately 1,500 GPs across England.
Professor Hippisley-Cox said: “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, only to find that in reality they live much longer than these crude predictions when other information is taken into account.
“The good news is that this new calculator which doctors and patients can access will offer a far more realistic estimate.
“We understand that not everyone will want to do this, of course, but some patients are very keen on this approach so it’s an individual choice.”
Current methods of predicting survival are based on simple averages based only on age or the grade and stage of the cancer in the wider population.
The new tool looks at a range of additional risk factors including a patients smoking history, body mass index, family history, other illnesses and treatments such as aspirin or statins.
They also analyse if they have had surgery or treatments such as chemotherapy to deliver a far more personalised prognosis.
The team used information from more than 44,000 patients from 947 practices to develop separate equations for men and women aged between 15 and 99 years old when diagnosed with bowel cancer.
They then tested the equations by using them to predict the outcome at one year, five years and ten years after diagnosis for 15,214 bowel cancer patients from 305 different GP practices and 437,821 colorectal cancer patients from the national cancer registry.
A 38-year-old woman with stage 4 advanced bowel cancer might decide to estimate her survival with or without surgery and chemotherapy to help assess the potential value of the treatment.
Using the web calculator, she could see that her chance of surviving for five-years without any treatment would be just six per cent.
It would show surgery would increase survival to 23 per cent and with both treatments it would be 45 per cent.
This compares with the published five-year survival of 66 per cent based solely on her age or the eight per cent chance based solely on her cancer stage.
Assuming she has both treatments and survives for a year following her diagnosis, her five-year conditional survival would increase to 57 per cent.
The team will adapt the new web calculator to predict prognosis in other types of cancers in the future.
Shaun O’Hanlon, Medical Director at EMIS Health said: “We are grateful for the continued commitment of practices using our systems and their patients who are helping to improving healthcare through data analytics.
“It is vital to have the tools to support cancer patients at this most difficult time in their treatment.
“While having the best information is always important, it is how it is delivered and used that is key.”