London: A simple online calculator could help diagnose two of the deadliest forms of cancer - pancreatic and bowel - much faster than existing tests and save thousands of lives every year.
Researchers have developed two new QCancer algorithms, which cross-reference symptoms and risk factors of patients to red flag those most likely to have the two types of cancer.
The test was successful in predicting 62 percent of all pancreatic cancers diagnosed over two years which were in the top 10 percent of patients predicted to be most at risk, the British Journal of General Practice reports.
Said Julia Hippisley-Cox, professor of primary care at Nottingham University who led the study: "We hope these new tools will help GPs (general practitioners) with ... identifying patients ... (and) help improve treatment options and outcomes for patients."
Pancreatic cancer has the worst survival rate for any cancer, almost three-quarters of patients die within a year of diagnosis. Famous victims include Steve Jobs, Patrick Swayze and Luciano Pavarotti.
Catching the disease in the early stages can offer a more optimistic prognosis for patients - however, with very few established risk factors and no reliable screening test available, according to a university statement.
The study used data from 564 GPs to develop the algorithm and test its success at predicting which patients were likely to have pancreatic cancer, based on a combo of symptoms including weight and appetite loss, abdominal pain and risk factors such as age, chronic pancreatitis, smoking and diabetes.
Colorectal cancer, or bowel cancer, is the second most common cancer in Europe as well as the second most common cause of cancer-related death.