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Anaemia marks colon Ca mortality Investigation

GPs should be more willing to investigate for colorectal cancer in patients with mild anaemia, researchers advise.

A new study found GPs were 'more alert' to rectal bleeding as a symptom, but that it was patients diagnosed after presenting with mild anaemia who had the worse prognosis.

Colorectal cancer patients who first presented with a mild anaemia – with a haemoglobin value of 10.0 to 12.9 g dl -1 – were twice as likely to develop a more advanced stage of colorectal cancer as those who initially presented with rectal bleeding. Their mortality rate was 1.5 times higher.

Study leader Dr William Hamilton, a senior research

fellow in the department of community-based medicine at the University of Bristol, said: 'We see so many mildly anaemic blood counts and so relatively few cancers that it's easy to ignore the possibility of cancer. Rectal bleeding is so much more obvious it's harder to ignore.'

But he added: 'The key with mild anaemia is to see if there is another diagnosis, and at least think of colorectal cancer and ask about pain, bleeding, diarrhoea or loss of weight. If any of those are present I'd refer.'

The study was published online by the British Journal of Cancer.

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