British 5-year survival from colorectal cancer (CRC) is below the European average, but the reasons are unclear. This study explored if longer provider delays (time from presentation to treatment) were associated with more advanced stage disease at diagnosis and poorer survival.
Data on 958 people with CRC were linked with the Scottish Cancer Registry, the Scottish Death Registry and the acute hospital discharge (SMR01) dataset. Time from first presentation in primary care to first treatment, disease stage at diagnosis and survival time from date of first presentation in primary care were determined. Logistic regression and Cox survival analyses, both with a restricted cubic spline, were used to model stage and survival, respectively, following sequential adjustment of patient and tumour factors.
On univariate analysis, those with <4 weeks from first presentation in primary care to treatment had more advanced disease at diagnosis and the poorest prognosis. Treatment delays between 4 and 34 weeks were associated with earlier stage (with the lowest odds ratio occurring at 20 weeks) and better survival (with the lowest hazard ratio occurring at 16 weeks). Provider delays beyond 34 weeks were associated with more advanced disease at diagnosis, but not increased mortality. Following adjustment for patient, tumour factors, emergency admissions and symptoms and signs, no significant relationship between provider delay and stage at diagnosis or survival from CRC was found.
Although allowing for a nonlinear relationship and important confounders, moderately long provider delays did not impact adversely on cancer outcomes. Delays are undesirable because they cause anxiety; this may be fuelled by government targets and health campaigns stressing the importance of very prompt cancer diagnosis. Our findings should reassure patients. They suggest that a health service's primary emphasis should be on quality and outcomes rather than on time to treatment.
colorectal cancer; provider delay; treatment delay; diagnosis; disease stage; survival
The etiology of colon cancer is complex, yet it is undoubtedly impacted by intestinal microbiota. Whether the contribution to colon carcinogenesis is generated through the presence of an overall dysbiosis or by specific pathogens is still a matter for debate. However, it is apparent that interactions between microbiota and the host are mediated by a variety of processes including signaling cascades, the immune system, host metabolism, and regulation of gene transcription. To fully appreciate the role of microbiota in colon carcinogenesis it will be necessary to expand efforts to define populations in niche environments, such as colonic crypts, explore cross talk between the host and the microbiota, and more completely define the metabolomic profile of the microbiota. These efforts must be pursued with appreciation that dietary substrates and other environmental modifiers mediate changes in the microbiota as well as their metabolism and functional characteristics.
Intestinal Microbiota; Metabolism; Transcriptional Regulation; Epigenetics; Diet
breast cancer; colorectal cancer; provider delay; cohort study; primary care
OBJECTIVE—To determine the proportion of the population, firstly, with cholesterol ⩾ 5.0 mmol/l and, secondly, with any cholesterol concentration, who might benefit from statin treatment for the following: secondary prevention of coronary heart disease (CHD); primary prevention at CHD risk 30%, 20%, 15%, and 6% over 10 years; and primary prevention at projected CHD risk 20% over 10 years (CHD risk at age 60 years if actual age < 60 years).
SUBJECTS—Random stratified sample of 3963 subjects aged 35-64 years from the Scottish health survey 1995.
RESULTS—For secondary prevention 7.8% (95% confidence interval (CI) 6.9% to 8.6%) of the population with cholesterol ⩾ 5.0 mmol/l would benefit from statins. For primary prevention, the prevalence of people at CHD risk 30%, 20%, 15%, and 6% over 10 years is 1.5% (95% CI 1.2% to 1.9%), 5.4% (95% CI 4.7% to 6.1%), 9.7% (95% CI 8.8% to 10.6%), and 32.9% (95% CI 31.5% to 34.4%), respectively. At projected CHD risk 20% over 10 years, 12.4% (95% CI 11.4% to 13.5%) would be treated with statins. Removing the 5.0 mmol/l cholesterol threshold makes little difference to population prevalence at high CHD risk.
CONCLUSIONS—Statin treatment would be required for 7.8% of the population for secondary prevention. For primary prevention, among other factors, guidelines should take into account the number of patients needing treatment at different levels of CHD risk when choosing the CHD risk to target. The analysis supports a policy of targeting treatment at CHD risk 30% over 10 years as a minimum, as recommended in current British guidelines, with a move to treating at CHD risk 15% over 10 years as resources permit.
Keywords: statins; coronary risk; secondary prevention; primary prevention
For common cancers, survival is poorer for deprived and outlying, rural patients. This study investigated whether there were differences in treatment of colorectal and lung cancer in these groups. Case notes of 1314 patients in north and northeast Scotland who were diagnosed with lung or colorectal cancer in 1995 or 1996 were reviewed. On univariate analysis, the proportions of patients receiving surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy appeared similar in all socio-economic and rural categories. Adjusting for disease stage, age and other factors, there was less chemotherapy among deprived patients with lung cancer (odds ratio 0.39; 95% confidence intervals 0.16 to 0.96) and less radiotherapy among outlying patients with colorectal cancer (0.39; 0.19 to 0.82). The time between first referral and treatment also appeared similar in all socio-economic and rural groups. Adjusting for disease stage and other variables, times to lung cancer treatment remained similar, but colorectal cancer treatment was quicker for outlying patients (adjusted hazard ratio 1.30; 95% confidence intervals 1.03 to 1.64). These findings suggest that socio-economic status and rurality may have a minor impact on modalities of treatment for colorectal and lung cancer, but do not lead to delays between referral and treatment.
British Journal of Cancer (2002) 21, 585–590. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6600515 www.bjcancer.com
© 2002 Cancer Research UK
Lung neoplasms; colorectal neoplasms; delivery of healthcare; socioeconomic factors rural population urban population
There is evidence that patients living in outlying areas have poorer survival from cancer. This study set out to investigate whether they have more advanced disease at diagnosis. Case notes of 1323 patients in north and northeast Scotland who were diagnosed with lung or colorectal cancer in 1995 or 1996 were reviewed. Of patients with lung cancer, 42% (69/164) living 58 km or more from a cancer centre had disseminated disease at diagnosis compared to 33% (71/215) living within 5 km. For colorectal cancer the respective figures were 24% (38/161) and 16% (31/193). For both cancers combined, the adjusted odds ratio for disseminated disease at diagnosis in furthest group compared to the closest group was 1.59 (P = 0.037). Of 198 patients with non-small-cell lung cancer in the closest group, 56 (28%) had limited disease (stage I or II) at diagnosis compared to 23 of 165 (14%) of the furthest group (P = 0.002). The respective figures for Dukes A and B colorectal cancer were 101 of 196 (52%) and 67 of 172 (39%) (P = 0.025). These findings suggest that patients who live remote from cities and the associated cancer centres have poorer chances of survival from lung or colorectal cancer because of more advanced disease at diagnosis. This needs to be taken into account when planning investigation and treatment services. © 2001 Cancer Research Campaign http://www.bjcancer.com
colorectal cancer; lung cancer; epidemiology; rural; urban; staging
Objective—To evaluate whether nurse run clinics in general practice improve secondary prevention in patients with coronary heart disease.
Design—Randomised controlled trial.
Setting—A random sample of 19 general practices in northeast Scotland.
Patients—1173 patients (685 men and 488 women) under 80 years with working diagnoses of coronary heart disease, but without terminal illness or dementia and not housebound.
Intervention—Nurse run clinics promoted medical and lifestyle aspects of secondary prevention and offered regular follow up.
Main outcome measures—Components of secondary prevention assessed at baseline and one year were: aspirin use; blood pressure management; lipid management; physical activity; dietary fat; and smoking status. A cumulative score was generated by counting the number of appropriate components of secondary prevention for each patient.
Results—There were significant improvements in aspirin management (odds ratio 3.22, 95% confidence interval 2.15 to 4.80), blood pressure management (5.32, 3.01 to 9.41), lipid management (3.19, 2.39 to 4.26), physical activity (1.67, 1.23 to 2.26) and diet (1.47, 1.10 to 1.96). There was no effect on smoking cessation (0.78, 0.47 to 1.28). Of six possible components of secondary prevention, the baseline mean was 3.27. The adjusted mean improvement attributable to intervention was 0.55 of a component (0.44 to 0.67). Improvement was found regardless of practice baseline performance.
Conclusions—Nurse run clinics proved practical to implement in general practice and effectively increased secondary prevention in coronary heart disease. Most patients gained at least one effective component of secondary prevention and, for them, future cardiovascular events and mortality could be reduced by up to a third.
Keywords: coronary heart disease; secondary prevention; randomised controlled trial; nurse led clinics
Background—In the Grampian region early anistreplase trial (GREAT), domiciliary thrombolysis by general practitioners was associated with a halving of one year mortality compared with hospital administration. However, after completion of the trial and publication of the results, the use of this treatment by general practitioners declined sharply.
Objective—To increase the proportion of eligible patients receiving timely thrombolytic treatment from their general practitioners.
Setting—Practices in Grampian located ⩾ 30 minutes' travelling time from Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, where patients with suspected acute myocardial infarction were referred after being seen by general practitioners.
Audit standard—A call-to-needle time of 90 minutes, as proposed by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
Methods—Findings of this audit of prehospital management of acute myocardial infarction were periodically fed back to the participating doctors, when practice case reviews were also conducted.
Results—Of 414 administrations of thrombolytic treatment, 146 (35%) were given by general practitioners and 268 (65%) were deferred until after hospital admission. Median call-to-needle times were 45 (94% ⩽ 90) and 145 (7% ⩽ 90) minutes, respectively. Survival at one year was improved with prehospital compared with hospital thrombolysis (83% v 73%; p < 0.05). The proportion of patients receiving thrombolytic treatment from their general practitioners did not increase during the audit.
Conclusions—In practices ⩾ 30 minutes from hospital, the BHF audit standard was readily achieved if general practitioners gave thrombolytic treatment, but not otherwise. Knowledge of the benefits of early thrombolysis, and feedback of audit results, did not lead to increased prehospital thrombolytic use. Additional incentives are required if general practitioners are to give thrombolytic treatment.
Keywords: thrombolysis; general practitioners; prehospital care; acute myocardial infarction
In this survival study 63 976 patients diagnosed with one of six common cancers in Scotland were followed up. Increasing distance from a cancer centre was associated with less chance of diagnosis before death for stomach, breast and colorectal cancers and poorer survival after diagnosis for prostate and lung cancers. © 2000 Cancer Research Campaign
survival; rural; urban; cancer registry
In an attempt to ensure high quality cancer treatment for all patients in the UK, care is being centralized in specialist centres and units. For patients in outlying areas, however, access problems may adversely affect treatment. In an attempt to assess alternative methods of delivering cancer care, this paper reviews published evidence about programmes that have set out to provide oncology services in remote and rural areas in order to identify evidence of effectiveness and problems. Keyword and textword searches of on-line databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, HEALTHSTAR and CINAHL) from 1978 to 1997 and manual searches of references were conducted. Fifteen papers reported evaluations of oncology outreach programmes, tele-oncology programmes and rural hospital initiatives. All studies were small and only two were controlled, so evidence was suggestive rather than conclusive. There were some indications that shared outreach care was safe and could make specialist care more accessible to outlying patients. Tele-oncology, by which some consultations are conducted using televideo, may be an acceptable adjunct. Larger and more methodologically robust studies are justified and should be conducted. © 1999 Cancer Research Campaign
cancer treatment; rural areas; patterns of care; systematic review
BACKGROUND. Acute infective diarrhoea is one of the commonest reasons for admission to hospital with an infectious disease. AIM. This study set out to describe the clinical features of infective diarrhoea at the time of presentation in adults managed in the community or admitted to hospital in 1990-91, in order to try to understand the decision-making process which led to referral to hospital. METHOD. Data were collected from general practitioners by computer assisted telephone interview for 114 patients with presumed infective diarrhoea referred to the infection unit at the City Hospital, Aberdeen from all practices in the Grampian region and for 121 non-referred patients managed within seven practices. RESULTS. General practitioners appeared to use examination, investigation and referral selectively in patients presenting with diarrhoeal illness. A comparison of referred and non-referred patients identified differences in patients' reasons for consultation and the general practitioners' clinical findings, suggesting these were important in the decision to refer the patient for hospital admission. General practitioners were more likely to refer adult patients with infective diarrhoea if the patients were older, were seen at home and were more acutely unwell with fever, dehydration and abdominal tenderness. CONCLUSION. The identification of these criteria may help general practitioners to decide when to refer a patient with infective diarrhoea to hospital.
OBJECTIVE--To examine changes in immunisation performance in Grampian region after the introduction of the 1990 contract for general practitioners. DESIGN--Retrospective descriptive study using data held on the Grampian immunisation record system's computer. SETTING--All 95 general practices in Grampian region (313 general practitioners). PATIENTS--All children in the primary immunisation and preschool booster age groups. This formed two groups of children for each of the four calendar quarters of 1990 and first three quarters of 1991 analysed as (a) those aged 2 years on the first day of the relevant quarter and (b) those aged 5 years on the first day of the relevant quarter, with an average population of 6600 and 6400 respectively. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE--Percentage immunised by practice. RESULTS--For primary immunisation the number of practices achieving immunisation rates of at least 95% increased from 29 (31%) to 76 (81%), and practices achieving 90% rates rose from 69 (73%) to 87 (93%). For preschool boosters, the number of practices achieving at least 95% immunisation rates increased from 22 (23%) to 61 (64%). By the end of September 1991, 76 (80%) practices were achieving at least 90% levels compared with 36 (39%) at the beginning of 1990. Since the beginning of 1989 the proportion of immunisations not given by general practitioners declined from 14% to 2%. CONCLUSIONS--Primary and preschool immunisation rates for preschool children in Grampian showed a sustained improvement during 1990 and consolidation in 1991. Although overall trends were unchanged, 18 months after the introduction of the 1990 contract only one practice failed to meet lower target levels of 70% for both primary and preschool immunisation. By September 1991 more than three out of four practices had reached levels of at least 95% for primary immunisation.
OBJECTIVE--To investigate a method of assessing the extent of routine patient data held on computer by Scottish general practitioners. DESIGN--An "electronic questionnaire" in the form of an interrogation questionnaire was used to extract a subset of data from practice computers running a standard software package (the general practice administrative system for Scotland, GPASS). The data were retained by each practice and also collected and analysed centrally to produce regional and national data. SUBJECTS--All 257 general practices in Scotland using GPASS software were sent the electronic questionnaire; data from 154 practices, including 759 general practitioners and covering 1,010,452 patients, were collected. RESULTS--Ninety three practices had all their patient records on computer; others had selectively entered data on, for example, only those patients receiving repeat prescriptions. The number of computerised patient records per practitioner ranged from 46 to 2373. Altogether 194,261 patients had repeat prescribing data and 204,005 morbidity or clinical data. CONCLUSION--An electronic questionnaire is a simple and effective way of investigating the information held on practice computers, allowing analysis and feedback of information to practitioners. Development of this system will provide a cumulative information system for Scottish general practitioners.
A screening model based in general practice for the detection of subjects at risk of premature cardiovascular disease is described. Opportunistic screening is performed by a trained nurse who also gives initial advice on management. Immediate feedback to patients is possible since a rapid dry chemistry technique is used to measure blood cholesterol concentrations. The collation and analysis of data are achieved using a microcomputer. A central deidentified database is incorporated to allow epidemiological studies and intervention strategy evaluations to be made. Nineteen health centres have evaluated the model, and 40,000 subjects have been screened: 10% had diastolic blood pressures of over 95 mm Hg and 15% had a blood cholesterol concentration over 7 mmol/l (270 mg/100 ml) and 2% over 9 mmol/l (347 mg/100 ml). The initial data suggest that the model is acceptable to both health centre personnel and the general public and that the offer of screening is taken up by all elements of the target population.