The Macmillan Cancer Decision Support Tool (CDS) is a symptom based software tool that aids GPs’ clinical judgement. It runs in the background of a GP’s computer system and is activated when a patient record is viewed. CDS is central to developing the area of early diagnosis of cancer by identifying and linking symptoms that may otherwise be missed in a busy surgery environment. CDS can also be used in two more explicit ways as a symptom checker and to illustrate which patients are at a higher or lower risk of cancer via its Population Risk Stratification function. CDS is currently live in over 550 practices across the UK and is being used by over 2,000 GPs during patient consultations.
People with cancer who are diagnosed early are easier to treat and more likely to recover. Over 300,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with cancer every year, but the average GP sees just eight or nine new cancer patients a year. Cancer decision support tools raise GP awareness of cancer symptoms, enabling early referral for further investigation.
The Macmillan Cancer Decision Support Tool runs two complementary algorithms (QCancer and RAT), analysing for different risk factors. Macmillan integrated them to create software suitable for daily clinical practice. Software compatible with all GP IT systems, BMJ’s Informatica iCAP, was used.
The Department of Health part-funded CDS for use in general practice, under the auspices of the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI).
The objective is simple. The Macmillan Cancer Decision Support Tool is designed to assist GPs in diagnosing cancer at an earlier stage. Interim findings show that the decision support tool makes a GP think more about cancer at the symptom stage; this could lead them to investigating or referring quicker.
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