New web-based tool set to optimise colorectal cancer screening

A new web-based colorectal cancer screening tool is aiming to provide a more systematic and risk-appropriate approach to screening for the highly prevalent cancer.

Australia and New Zealand has the highest rate of colorectal cancer worldwide, with the cancer being the 3rd most common in men and 2nd most common in women globally.

Lead researcher Dr Jennifer Walker of the University of Melbourne Cancer in Primary Care group, says that the Colorectal Cancer RISk Prediction tool (CRISP) has potential to increase appropriate screening and reduce over-referral for colonoscopy for people at average risk of developing the disease.

It will also assist in identifying people who might need more intensive screening than they are currently receiving.

“The CRISP tool is being trialed in general practice to evaluate its effect on improving risk-appropriate screening, by giving people the right screening advice based at their individual risk of developing colorectal cancer.”

“Currently, challenges include low participation rates in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program free ‘FOBT’ or ‘the poo’ test kit, and overuse of colonoscopy for individuals with average risk.”

The tool was designed by researchers at the University of Melbourne in collaboration with general practitioners, gastroenterologists, geneticists, policy makers, IT developers and epidemiologists.

It uses a new risk prediction model – a mathematical algorithm combining demographic, clinical, lifestyle and genetic factors to determine an individual’s risk of developing colorectal cancer.

A clinical trial is currently underway to test the tool’s impact on screening behaviour, with a study protocol published in BioMed Central and results to be reported in 2020.

The trial aims to evaluate utilisation of the tool within health services, effect on healthcare costs, and patient outcomes including patient risk perception and level of ‘cancer worry’.