Aids to cancer diagnosis in primary care

Who is involved?

Project Summary

This study is part of a wider Health and Technology Assessment study (Aids to Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care, 16/12/04), whose overall aim is to understand the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and current use of cancer diagnostic tools to aid decision-making in primary care.

Clinical decision-support tools quantify the risk of undiagnosed cancer in symptomatic patients, based on symptoms and risk factors. They may help general practitioners improve their selection of patients for investigation for suspected cancer.

Two main types of tools are available in the UK: Risk Assessment Tools (RATs) and QCancer®. RATs are available in electronic, mousemat and flipchart forms.QCancer® is freely accessible online ( In 2013, MacMillan Cancer Support, BMJ Informatica, the Department of Health and Cancer Research UK collaborated to incorporate RATs and QCancer® into general practice IT systems, renaming them “electronic clinical decision-support tools for cancer”.

No studies have quantified the availability or use of these tools. This information is important for understanding their clinical and cost effectiveness. Therefore, this study will conduct a cross-sectional postal survey of general practice in the UK to quantify the proportions of general practices and of general practitioners who have access to clinical decision-support tools for cancer. Secondary analyses will explore the association between tool availability and the number of urgent referrals for suspected cancer.

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