A new systematic review of risk prediction models for colorectal cancer published by Dr Juliet Usher-Smith (Primary Care Unit) and colleagues may provide a strong basis for a similar assessment in other common cancers.
This review (the first of its type) identified 52 published models that predicted the risk of developing bowel cancer in individuals without symptoms.
By grouping the models according to the type and number of variables included, they showed that adding increasing numbers of risk factors collected from questionnaires and blood tests does not clearly improve the risk models.
Simple models based on information such as age, sex and BMI could potentially be used to stratify the population into risk groups.
Characteristics of the screening programme (such as the test, age of first invitation and interval between tests) could then be varied according to individuals’ level of risk thereby reducing unnecessary testing and improving screening for bowel cancer.