Chicago Health | Homepage
Do you know your personal colorectal cancer risk?

Do you know your personal colorectal cancer risk?

By Michael Kattan, Ph.D.

What is your risk of having colorectal cancer? If you are approaching or have passed your 50th birthday, your doctor probably has advised you to have colorectal cancer screening to determine that. And that’s the problem.

Since the late 20th century, this one-size-fits-all advice has been standard because there has been no other reliable way of predicting a specific individual’s risk of developing this deadly disease. That’s why our team at Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute invented an online calculator to help physicians decide when patients truly need colorectal screenings.

The CRC-PRO, Colorectal Cancer Predicted Risk Online, allows physicians to quickly and accurately determine an individual patient’s likelihood of developing colorectal cancer.

Our team analyzed about a decade’s worth of data on more than 180,000 patients and identified strong links between certain risk factors and colorectal cancer.

We produced separate calculators for men and women. In addition, we took into account differences among racial groups, for which the risks differ dramatically.

This was important because, until now, research into colorectal cancer risk mainly focused on Caucasians. A calculator that accounts for multiple factors provides clinicians with a more accurate way of predicting risk than relying on a single risk factor, such as age.

Clinicians using this calculator can decide to screen high-risk patients before age 50, for instance, while delaying or forgoing screening in low-risk individuals, regardless of their age.

A safer approach can save lives

This approach is much safer for patients who might not need the procedure and can be lifesaving for younger patients who ordinarily would not have the screening until years later, when it might be too late.

Also important: Accurate prediction helps improve the efficiency of screening while lowering healthcare costs by reducing unnecessary testing. Our research results, which showed that the tool is accurate and user-friendly, were published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

As someone who has had cancer — I received a Stage IV Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis while I was beginning work on my doctorate — I have been driven to help find a better way of predicting cancer risk as well as outcomes. I’m also driven to use that information to develop a personalized prevention or management strategy.

I learned firsthand how inaccurate existing cancer staging systems were at the time of my diagnosis.

Why we need personalized cancer predictions

Staging systems are based on physical exams, imaging procedures, lab tests, and pathology and surgical reports that help doctors determine the cancer’s severity. I soon recognized the need to have personalized predictions through calculators. And I changed my career path from financial prediction to healthcare outcomes.

Developing risk prediction calculators like the CRC-PRO is vital for improving medical decision-making. Our research team is creating a number of such online tools for other diseases, including heart disease and cancers of the breast, prostate and thyroid.

We also are working on software to integrate these tools for automatic calculation in a patient’s electronic health record, making it even easier for physicians to devise an effective treatment plan.

(Michael Kattan, Ph.D., is the chair of the department of quantitative health sciences at Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute. WhatDoctorsKnow is a magazine devoted to up-to-the minute information on health issues from physicians, major hospitals and clinics, universities and health care agencies across the U.S. Online at www.whatdoctorsknow.com.)

(c) 2015 WHATDOCTORSKNOW.COM. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Environmental Nutrition By Matthew Kadey, M.S., R.D., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter There is only so much food you

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I seem to be very

Start treatment now to prevent spring allergy symptoms

Start treatment now to prevent spring allergy symptoms

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I have spring allergies. Every

Does your doctor’s gender matter?

Does your doctor’s gender matter?

By Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. Harvard Health Blog I've read medical research studies that surprised me. I've

10 tips to fight osteoporosis

10 tips to fight osteoporosis

Environmental Nutrition By Carrie Dennett, M.P.H., R.D.N., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter Because 70 percent of our bone destiny

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

June 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
May 28, 2017 May 29, 2017 May 30, 2017 May 31, 2017 June 1, 2017 June 2, 2017 June 3, 2017
June 4, 2017 June 5, 2017 June 6, 2017 June 7, 2017 June 8, 2017 June 9, 2017 June 10, 2017
June 11, 2017 June 12, 2017 June 13, 2017 June 14, 2017 June 15, 2017 June 16, 2017 June 17, 2017
June 18, 2017 June 19, 2017 June 20, 2017 June 21, 2017 June 22, 2017 June 23, 2017 June 24, 2017
June 25, 2017 June 26, 2017 June 27, 2017 June 28, 2017 June 29, 2017 June 30, 2017 July 1, 2017

Recent Comments

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives