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Taking a closer, international look at the path from cancer symptom to clarification

Leading researchers from Great Britain, the USA and Aarhus University have received GBP five million to test which diagnostic path prior to treatment gives greater survival rates in cases of cancer. One source of inspiration is the "Danish model"; the key is to understand the process from symptom to clarification and diagnosis.

Danish knowledge about how to quickly ensure clarification when a person has cancer symptoms will now form the starting point for research on an international scale. A new network of top researchers will embark on a five-year research project into how the path from symptom to clarification and/or diagnosis can be carried out in the most rational way. 

The goal is that more patients should ultimately survive their illness. The means will include the use of new technology such as tests that will be made available to general practitioners.

Solid research into Danish success

The new research network, called the CanTest Collaborative, is based in the UK where the newly established "The Catalyst Award", comprising GBP 5 million (approx. DKK 50 million) in funding from Cancer Research UK, will finance the coming years' work. The award was, among other things, given on the basis of an application for research into the "Danish model" that was made by Professor Peter Vedsted from the Research Unit for General Practice at Aarhus University:

"In popular terms you can say that we have a healthcare system in Denmark that can be exported. England, for example, has begun to take notice of how we focus on fast diagnosis, even though the classic alarm symptoms are missing. The things that we have succeeded in doing in Denmark will now be subject to large-scale, solid research in collaborations across national borders and institutions," says Peter Vedsted.

Will work towards understanding the process

He sees one question as being essential for the coming work: What does the interaction between general practitioner and patient revolve around when considering whether the symptoms may be a sign of cancer?
Is there e.g. an opportunity to begin diagnosis already at an early stage in the first line, so that focus is less on fast diagnosis, and more on finding the cancer at an earlier stage?
And how does the path look when cancer does not present itself as alarm symptoms, but rather as more "mysterious" symptoms or simply a "feeling"?

"In other words, we will work on a scientific clarification of the most rational way to move from symptom to clarification – so that we will work towards understanding the process," says Peter Vedsted.

The Danish researchers will physically become part of the project’s international school, where knowledge about methods and new technologies in the field will be exchanged.

"So I expect our international work to grow significantly in the coming years, and for us to have periods where we will work from Aarhus, London and New York…," says Peter Vedsted.


Professor Peter Vedsted

The Research Unit for General Medical Practice, Aarhus University
The Research Centre for Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care, CaP
Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University
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