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Hundreds of GP practices to trial cancer diagnosis tool

Hundreds of GP practices across England are set to trial a new electronic decision support tool to identify cancer earlier.

Macmillan Cancer Support is currently recruiting around 650 practices to test its ‘cancer decision support tool’ that combines QCancer and the risk assessment tool (RAT) developed by GP Dr Willie Hamilton.

It comes as part of the cancer charity’s project to improve early diagnosis, part-funded by the Department of Health.

The trial marks the first time decision aids for cancer are built into GP electronic systems and will be evaluated for its impact on the management and referral of patients with suspected cancer.

GPs at 60 practices across the UK have already tested an earlier version of the tool, and an evaluation of the pilot found it did help to highlight certain symptoms and combinations of symptoms that indicate a possibility of cancer.

Dr Rosie Loftus, lead GP adviser at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: ‘The CDS makes GPs more aware of the importance of spotting cancer early and helps them deal with the complex decisions around referring people who might have the disease.

‘Spotting cancer in its early stages can mean that vital treatment and support is available and can have a very real effect on a patient’s prognosis. It is hoped this predictive tool will help GPs refer and will mean fewer people die from cancer in the long-term.’

Professor Greg Rubin, RCGP and Cancer Research UK clinical lead on cancer, who has provided advice on the project, told Pulse: ‘Recent research has allowed us to quantify the risk and allowed us to be able to develop this tool.

‘As the tool will be trialled in a large number of practices we should understand a lot more about this after the pilot has concluded.’

Watch the Pulse Big Interview with Professor Greg Rubin from earlier this year

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