Intended for healthcare professionals


Predicting survival in patients with colorectal cancer

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 15 June 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2772
  1. Juliet Usher-Smith, clinical senior research associate1,
  2. Richard Miller, consultant colorectal and general surgeon2,
  3. Simon Griffin, professor of general practice1
  1. 1The Primary Care Unit, Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Cambridge CB2 0SR, UK
  2. 2Cambridge Colorectal Unit, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to: J Usher-Smith jau20{at}

New models will help, but shouldn’t be used in isolation

By estimating the probability of given outcomes for individuals based on a combination of clinical and sociodemographic characteristics, the growing number of risk prediction models have the potential to support decision making by patients and clinicians.

In a linked paper (doi:10.1136/bmj.j2497), Hippisley-Cox and Coupland use data from a large UK primary care database (QResearch) to develop models to estimate survival in men and women after a diagnosis of colorectal cancer.1 They then validate them in a separate set of patients within the same database and in the Public Health England cancer registry. Using established statistical measures of performance, they show that the models are reasonably good at ranking people according to their survival, and the predicted survival estimates closely match those observed in the study populations and other studies.

Compared with existing models, these new ones have several advantages.23 Firstly, they are applicable to all patients with colorectal cancer, whereas existing models apply to …

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