Web tool lets bowel cancer patients calculate time to fulfill their bucket list

While understanding the unpredictability of cancer is one of the toughest pursuits in medical science, predicting how much time bowel cancer patients may have to strike off wishes in their bucket list may soon become a reality — thanks to a new web tool developed by scientists at University of Nottingham, UK.

Developed by professors Julia Hippisley-Cox and Carol Coupland, this novel tool uses a patient database from 1,500 general practices across England to predict the patient’s chances of survival.

The biggest question that comes to a cancer patient’s mind after overcoming the initial shock of diagnosis is: “how much time do I have to live”. Until now, doctors have use crude methods to answer this question based on the information available on the age, grade and stage of the cancer in general population.

But as per the developers of this new tool, it can offer much more reliable estimate of both absolute survival rates for men and women with colorectal cancer.

“Current methods of estimating survival tend to be unreliable and sometimes patients can be given a fairly misleading and unnecessarily gloomy prognosis based only on the grade and stage of their cancer, only to find that in reality they live much longer than these crude predictions when other information is taken into account,” Professor Hippisley-Cox said.

So what makes this new cancer survival calculator more reliable?

According to scientists, it is the ability of this tool to take into consideration a wide range of risk factors like family history, lifestyle, body mass index and a plethora of other such relevant information before coming up with an estimate of survival.

The health data of over 44,000 patients from 947 practices was studied to develop separate equations for men and women aged between 15 and 99 years old when diagnosed with bowel cancer.

The study findings were recently published in the prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ).

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