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Decision support software aids cancer risk analysis

15 August 2007

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General practices get better results when they use decision support computer software to diagnose risks for patients with a family history of cancer, research shows.

The “Genetic Risk Assessment on the Internet with Decision Support” (GRAIDS) system combines current and family history data so that GPs can easily calculate family cancer risks for individual patients.  

A study of 45 general practices found that those who used the GRAIDS system referred the most patients to regional genetics specialists and ensured that referrals matched official guidelines.

General practices using GRAIDS referred 162 patients over a year while those using standard procedures referred only 84.

Patients referred through the GRAIDS system also reported feeling less anxious about their risk of cancer than those referred using standard practices.

Lead researcher Professor Jon Emery at the University of Western Australia said: “Our study shows for the first time the value of software that assesses family history for general practice.

“The GRAIDS system resulted in significantly more referrals that were consistent with guidelines, for those with a family history of bereast cancer and in cases whether there was a history of noth breast cancer and colon cancer in the same family.”

Dr Lesley Walker, direrctor of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said: “Assessment software like GRAIDS will have a significant role to play, helping to detect those at increased risk and reassuring those who are not.”

Canceer Research UK