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Table 5 The diagnostic role of clinical examination, laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures, performed or ordered by a general practitioner (GP), in colorectal cancer. Number of patients where these had diagnostic importance. Cohort study with 61,802 patients in primary care (2011–12)

From: Symptoms and signs of colorectal cancer, with differences between proximal and distal colon cancer: a prospective cohort study of diagnostic accuracy in primary care

  Colon cancer (n = 65) Proximal location (n = 18) Distal location (n = 26) Unspecified (n = 21) Rectal cancer (n = 29)
Clinical examination
Abdominal examination 19 (29.2%) 4 (22.2%) 7 (26.9%) 8 (38.1%) 10 (34.5%)
Digital rectal examination 13 (20.0%) 1 (5.6%) 7 (26.9%) 5 (23.8%) 11 (37.9%)
Gynecological examination 1    1 1
Proctoscopy/sigmoidoscopy 10 (15.4%) 1 (5.6%) 6 (23.1%) 3 (14.3%) 5 (17.2%)
Other examination 5   3 2 2
No diagnostic contribution from clinical examination 29 (44.6%) 11 (61.1%) 10 (38.5%) 8 (38.1%) 10 (34.5%)
Missing 4 2 1 1 1
Laboratory tests
Haemoglobin concentration 17 (26.2%) 5 (27.8%) 5 (19.2%) 7 (33.3%) 2 (6.9%)
Erythrocyte Sedimentation rate 2   3 1
C-Reactive Protein 2 2 3 2
Test for occult blood in stool 17 (26.2%) 1 (5.6%) 8 (30.8%) 8 (38.1%) 4 (13.8%)
Cervical cytology 0     0
Prostate Specific Antigen 0     0
Urinary examination     0
Other    3 2
No diagnostic contribution from laboratory tests 29 (44.6%) 10 (55.6%) 13 (50.0%) 6 (28.6%) 18 (62.1%)
Missing 5 1 2 2 3
Diagnostic procedures
X-ray 4 1 2 1 1
Ultrasound 2    2 1
Computer tomography 20 (30.8%) 7 (38.9%) 6 (23.1%) 7 (33.3%) 5 (17.2%)
Magnetic resonance 1 1   
Upper GI Endoscopy     0
Coloscopy 47 (72.3%) 13 (72.2%) 19 (73.1%) 15 (71.4%) 20 (69.0%)
Cystoscopy 0     0
Other 2 1   1 3
None of the above procedures 6 (9.2%) 2 (11.1%) 3 (11.5%) 1 (4.8%) 1 (3.4%)
Missing 2   1 1 1
  1. More than one examination/procedure could be recorded for one patient, where appropriate