Bowel and Pancreatic Cancer Breakthrough

According to the National Cancer Institute, about 44,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic and 143, 460 Americans will be diagnosed with bowel cancers (colon and rectal cancers) this year.

However, a simple test could save thousands of lives each year, according to British researchers. A partnership between academics from The University of Nottingham and ClinRisk Ltd, has resulted in an online calculator that could help doctors diagnose these cancers earlier.

According to a press release from the University of Nottingham, the team developed two new QCancer algorithms, which cross-reference symptoms and risk factors of patients to red flag those most likely to have pancreatic and bowel cancer.

Similar QResearch® scores have already proven effective in previous research in identifying patients at most risk of developing lung cancer, gastroesophageal cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, fractures, kidney disease, and serious blood clots.

Researchers used anonymous data to test the algorithm. Patients were between 30 and 84 years of age; free at baseline from a diagnosis of either pancreatic or bowel cancer; and showed no symptoms of either cancer in the 12 months prior to the study. Taking into consideration the patient's age, risk factors and symptoms, the algorithm was very successful in determining which patients would be more likely to develop pancreatic cancer (62 percent) and bowel cancers (70 percent).

The study helped the researchers develop the QCancer® (pancreas) Risk Calculator and the QCancer® (Colorectal) Risk Calculator. The calculators are currently for use by physicians, but researchers say a simpler version is in the works for the general public.

"We hope these new tools will help GPs with the difficult task of identifying patients with suspected cancer earlier and that this in turn could help improve treatment options and outcomes for patients," said lead researcher Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox, University of Nottingham's Division of Primary Care in the release.

If you have any risk factors or symptoms, make an appointment to discuss with your doctor.

Facts About Pancreatic Cancer

Risk factors:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Family history
  • Inflammation of the pancreas
  • Obesity


  • Dark urine
  • Pale stools
  • Jaundice
  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Pain in the middle of your back that doesn't go away when you shift your position
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stools that float in the toilet

Advanced cancer symptoms: weakness and fatigue, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss.

At this time, cancer of the pancreas can be cured only when it's found at an early stage (before it has spread) and only if surgery can completely remove the tumor. For people who can't have surgery, other treatments may be able to help them live longer and feel better.

Facts About Bowel Cancers

Risk factors:

  • Age 50+
  • Colorectal polyps
  • Family history
  • Personal history of cancer
  • Ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease
  • A high-fat diet
  • Smoking

Screening tests help your doctor find polyps or cancer before you have symptoms. Finding and removing polyps may prevent colorectal cancer. Treatment for colorectal cancer is more likely to be effective when the disease is found early.


  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Blood in stool
  • Stools more narrow than usual
  • Gas pains
  • Bloating
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting

Other health problems can cause the same symptoms, says the National Cancer Institute. Anyone with these symptoms should see a doctor to be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.




Simple test to help diagnose bowel and pancreatic cancer could save thousands of lives

What You Need to Know About Cancer of the Pancreas
National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health

What You Need to Know About Cancer of Colon and Rectum
National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health