Symptoms predicting bowel cancer

Canadian reviewers have updated the literature searches used in the development of clinical practice guidelines, such as those of the New Zealand Guidelines Group. They reviewed studies of suspicious symptoms with an emphasis on studies in general practice.

Thirty-two articles were included in their systematic review. Abdominal or rectal masses were significant predictors of cancer. However, the positive predictive value (PPV) of a rectal mass ranged from 23% to 80%.

Rectal bleeding had a PPV of 5% or more. The importance of this symptom increased with the age of the patients.

A change in bowel