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Colon Cancer: Online Test Reveals Your Risk

Jan 26th 2014 at 10:37 PM

The Cleveland Clinic has developed an online tool that provides a quick, accurate estimate of the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

The so-called CRC-PRO tool — short for Colorectal Cancer Predicted Risk Online — is designed to help patients and physicians alike determine when screening for colorectal cancer is appropriate. Current guidelines recommend patients be screened at the age of 50 with a colonoscopy and other procedures.

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But the new tool can help physicians better identify who is truly at risk and when screenings for patients are necessary, based on individual risk factors — including family history of the disease, gender, and race.

"Creating a risk calculator that includes multiple risk factors offers clinicians a means to more accurately predict risk than the simple age-based cutoffs currently used in clinical practice," said Brian Wells, M.D., of the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences in Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, who helped develop the tool. "Clinicians could decide to screen high-risk patients earlier than age 50, while delaying or foregoing screening in low-risk individuals."

To create the calculator, Dr. Wells and his team analyzed data on more than 180,000 patients from a study conducted at the University of Hawaii. Patients were followed for up to 11.5 years to determine which factors were highly associated with the development of colorectal cancer.

In a report on the project, published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, Dr. Wells said the new, user-friendly calculator will help improve the efficiency of colorectal cancer screenings and lower healthcare costs by cutting down on unnecessary testing.

"The development of risk prediction calculators like the CRC-PRO is vital for improving medical decision-making," said Michael Kattan, chairman of the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences in Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute. "Tools like this represent another step toward personalized medicine that will ultimately improve efficiency, outcomes and patient care."

Cleveland Clinic researchers are involved in the creation of numerous risk prediction tools, including heart disease and cancers of the breast, prostate, and thyroid — in addition to the new colorectal cancer test. All are available online here.

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