Empowering GPs: The Macmillan Tool Improving Early Cancer Detection

This text is based on the article Macmillan Cancer Decision Support Tool: supporting GPs in earlier detection of cancer, Originally published in 'All.Can Efficiency Hub' on November 2020

In the UK, delayed cancer diagnoses impact survival rates more than in other European countries. To tackle this issue, Macmillan Cancer Support created the Cancer Decision Support (CDS) tool, aiding General Practitioners (GPs) in spotting potential cases sooner. Launched in 2013, it started with a focus on lung, colorectal, and ovarian cancers, later expanding to include blood, breast, cervical, and more.

The CDS tool doesn't diagnose cancer but helps GPs by giving automatic prompts, a symptom checker, and a risk stratification tool. It calculates an individual's risk of having an undiagnosed cancer using information like symptoms, medical history, and demographics. Two algorithms, QCancerĀ® and Risk Assessment Tool (RAT), have successfully boosted early lung cancer diagnoses and accurately identified risks for various cancers. A pilot study even reported GPs becoming more aware of cancer symptoms, prompting them to investigate further.

While the tool faced challenges like 'prompt fatigue' among GPs and concerns about consultation length, it made significant progress by integrating into GP information technology systems and aligning with NICE guideline updates in 2021. The journey with the Macmillan CDS tool underscores the need for evidence-based tools in healthcare. The ongoing Electronic Risk Assessment for Cancer (ERICA) trial aims to validate these tools further, potentially transforming early cancer diagnoses nationwide. Keep an eye out for updates on this ground-breaking initiative.

This text is part of the European Cancer Organisation (ECO) repository of best practices and innovations to address the cancer workforce crisis in Europe. You can find more examples of best practices here.