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Home Industry News New tool helps GPs spot family cancer risk

New tool helps GPs spot family cancer risk

15th August 2007

A decision support computer system can help GPs to make more effective referrals of patients with a family history of breast or bowel cancer, a new study has found.

In trials the Genetic Risk Assessment on the Internet with Decision Support (GRAIDS) system increased the number of patients referred by GPs to regional genetics specialists and produced a higher proportion of referrals meeting the criteria for increased risk.

For those referred with a family history of breast cancer, 93 per cent met the official referral guidelines for increased risk, while for bowel cancer the figure was 99 per cent.

Ninety-five per cent of patients referred with a family history of both met the guidelines.

This compares to 73 per cent, 92 per cent and 79 per cent respectively for patients referred solely based on the judgement of GPs, according to the study published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Commenting on the findings, lead researcher Professor Jon Emery from the University of Western Australia said: “Our study shows for the first time the value of software that assesses family history for general practice.”

Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, added: “As we discover more about the genetic factors associated with cancer, GPs will be on the front line when it comes to providing advice and support to those with a history of the disease in their families, and reassuring those who may have overestimated their risk.

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