Preliminary results of a feasibility study of the use of information technology for identification of suspected colorectal cancer in primary care: the CREDIBLE study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Lindy Berkman
  • Alexis Macherianakis
  • William Hamilton
  • Helen Awbery
  • Tom Marshall

External organisations

  • University of Exeter


Background: We report the findings of a feasibility study using information technology to search electronic primary care records and to identify patients with possible colorectal cancer.
Methods: An algorithm to flag up patients meeting National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) urgent referral criteria for suspected colorectal cancer was developed and incorporated into clinical audit software. This periodically flagged up such patients aged 60 to 79 years. General practitioners (GPs) reviewed flagged-up patients and decided on further clinical management. We report the numbers of patients identified and the numbers that GPs judged to need further review, investigations or referral to secondary care and the final diagnoses.
Results: Between January 2012 and March 2014, 19 580 records of patients aged 60 to 79 years were searched in 20 UK general practices, flagging up 809 patients who met urgent referral criteria. The majority of the patients had microcytic anaemia (236 (29%)) or rectal bleeding (205 (25%)). A total of 274 (34%) patients needed further clinical review of their records; 199 (73%) of these were invited for GP consultation, and 116 attended, of whom 42 were referred to secondary care. Colon cancer was diagnosed in 10 out of 809 (1.2%) flagged-up patients and polyps in a further 28 out of 809 (3.5%).
Conclusions: It is technically possible to identify patients with colorectal cancer by searching electronic patient records.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S70-76
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue numberSupplement
Early online date3 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2015
Event3rd NAEDI Research Conference - illennium Gloucester Hotel & Conference Centre, 4-18 Harrington Gardens, London, SW7 4LH , London, United Kingdom
Duration: 26 Mar 201527 Mar 2015


  • colorectal cancer, primary care, diagnosis, electronic medical records