Website Predicts Breast Cancer Survival

15 September 2010, 06:00

A new website, which can help breast cancer sufferers predict their survival rate, has been developed in Cambridge.

It's designed to offer greater accuracy by using data such as age, whether the tumour was detected by screening or the patient finding a lump, width of tumour and the grade of cancer.

Patients and doctors are then given a prediction of how likely the person is to survive for the next five or ten years, and any extra benefits from drug treatment.

The tool, called Predict, is free and was developed by a team led by Professor Gordon Wishart, director of the Cambridge breast unit at Cambridge University Hospitals.

Experts used data from the Eastern Cancer Registration and Information Centre, for East Anglia, on more than 5,600 patients.

This was then cross-referenced with data from the West Midlands to ensure an accurate picture could be built up of cancer survival across the UK.

The East of England data included a mix of hospitals, including general hospitals and teaching trusts.

The plan is to continually update the website as more data becomes available.

Professor Wishart said: "It's very important for patients to know what the benefits of different treatments might be.

"If you're only going to get a very small benefit from chemotherapy, then you have to weigh that up against all the toxicity and all the possible side effects of that treatment.

"It provides patients with some degree of prognosis.  Not all patients want to know that, but for those patients that do this website will be extremely valuable to them."

The Professor stressed that this is only an estimate of what might happen, but is modelled on a similar system from America, which has proved very effective.

Meg McArthur, senior policy officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said the tool was useful but patients should discuss the findings with their doctor.

"We want people with breast cancer to be able to make informed decisions about their treatment,'' she said.

"This website could help the partnership between patients and healthcare professionals and potentially lead to improved treatment choices.

"We would encourage that Predict is only used and discussed in consultation with a doctor to ensure that the patient's assessment is accurate.''