A key aspect of CanTest is developing future capacity in the field of early cancer diagnosis. One aspect of this is working with medical students from around the world. Here, visiting medical student Madeline Carney from the University of South Florida reports on her visit to work with the CanTest team in Exeter and the resulting paper on bladder cancer diagnosis published recently in the BJGP.
During the summer between my first and second year of medical school, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Exeter from Tampa, FL, USA to work with Dr Sarah Price, Prof Willie Hamilton and the rest of the DISCO team.Our primary focus was investigating bladder cancer diagnosis in the primary care setting. Bladder cancer is the 10th leading cause of cancer worldwide. It is well established that early stage detection of cancer is associated with improved survival. Furthermore, women are more likely than men to be diagnosed at a later stage.
Coming from the United States, I had the unique opportunity to utilize the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) which is the largest database of anonymized, longitudinal medical records from primary care in the world. Through linkage to the Public Health England National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS) we were able to investigate the effect of conditions with symptoms that mimic those of bladder cancer on the time to diagnosis.
I spent six weeks in Exeter working with the team. This exceptional group taught me how to gather and analyze data as well as skills in scientific writing. We produced a paper titled “Effect of pre-existing conditions on stage of bladder cancer at diagnosis: a cohort study using electronic primary care records” which has been published in the British Journal of General Practice. This is an amazing accomplishment for a medical student, and it has equipped me with the skills to pursue more medical research in the future. Through this process I also learned a great deal about bladder cancer itself that has benefited me immensely in my medical school studies. Additionally, this work opened my eyes to the phenomenon of multimorbidity and the role it plays in healthcare for many diseases, not just bladder cancer. This experience has shaped my medical career and will continue to influence how a practice as a physician in the future.