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Many colorectal cancers would be missed with new criteria for patient referral

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Recently, in the UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) outlined criteria that should trigger primary care clinicians to refer patients with suspected colorectal cancer to see an oncologist. A new analysis of 1981 patients with lower gastrointestinal symptoms indicates that using these criteria, physicians would miss nearly 20% of colorectal cancers.

"Our findings build on previous reports indicating that the alarm features that supposedly indicate the presence of colorectal cancer are very common among the general population, which limits their ability to predict a diagnosis accurately," said Prof. Alex Ford, senior author of the Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics study.

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