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Using Online Colorectal Cancer Risk Calculators to Guide Screening Decision-Making.

Maratt JK, Imperiale TF. Using Online Colorectal Cancer Risk Calculators to Guide Screening Decision-Making. The American journal of medicine. 2023 Mar 1; 136(3):308-314.e3.

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BACKGROUND: Several online calculators estimate colorectal cancer risk, but their consistency is unknown. Our objectives were to quantify the variation in predicted risk and to determine which calculators are best used in the clinical setting. METHODS: We used the Google search engine to identify online colorectal cancer risk calculators and assessed the output of each for 3 hypothetical screening scenarios (low-, average-, and high-risk), varied by age (50, 62, 75 years), sex, and race (Black, White), with risk levels based on risk-appropriate values for variables in each model. Estimated risks for models within a given scenario were rated as consistent or inconsistent based on comparison with either the absolute magnitude of difference or average lifetime risk of colorectal cancer. Summary statistics for consistent and inconsistent estimates were compared using chi-square and Fisher''s exact tests. RESULTS: We identified 5 online colorectal cancer risk calculators. Inconsistencies were found in none of 5-year, 19% of 10-year, and 81% of lifetime colorectal cancer risk estimate comparisons (P < .001). For a 50-year-old, 22% of risk estimate comparisons were inconsistent, vs 33% for a 62-year-old, and 36% for a 75-year-old (P  =  0.14). CONCLUSIONS: Online colorectal cancer risk models are more consistent in predicting colorectal cancer risk for 5- and 10-year time frames compared with lifetime. For a US population, the National Cancer Institute''s Colorectal Cancer Risk Assessment Tool is a rigorously developed calculator that can be used in the clinical setting to provide 5-year and lifetime risk estimates.

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