The paper, published in 2017, found that having a high blood platelet count (thrombocytosis) is a strong indicator of cancer and should be urgently investigated to save lives.
Lead author and CanTest Research Fellow Dr Sarah Bailey said: “I’m delighted that our paper has won this award. Our research found that a substantial number of people could have their cancer diagnosed earlier with the discovery of this risk marker. This really could make a difference in achieving earlier diagnosis.”
The study of 50,000 patient records, led by the University of Exeter Medical School, found that more than 11% of men and 6% of women aged 40 and over with thrombocytosis went on to be diagnosed with cancer within a year. They found that this rose to 18% in men and 10% in women if a second raised platelet count was found within six months.
The most commonly diagnosed cancers were lung and colorectal cancer. One-third of patients with thrombocytosis and one of these cancers displayed no other symptoms to cause concern with their GP.
The paper calls for GPs to consider a diagnosis of cancer in patients with unexpected thrombocytosis, to increase early diagnosis which can save lives.
Titled ‘Clinical relevance of thrombocytosis in primary care: a prospective cohort study of cancer incidence using English electronic medical records and cancer registry data’, the paper is published in the British Journal of General Practice. Authors are Sarah E R Bailey, Obioha C Ukoumunne, Elizabeth A Shephard and Willie Hamilton.