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Br J Gen Pract. 2017 Jun;67(659):e405-e413. doi: 10.3399/bjgp17X691109.

Clinical relevance of thrombocytosis in primary care: a prospective cohort study of cancer incidence using English electronic medical records and cancer registry data.

Author information

1
University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter.
2
NIHR CLAHRC South West Peninsula, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Thrombocytosis (raised platelet count) is an emerging risk marker of cancer, but the association has not been fully explored in a primary care context.

AIM:

To examine the incidence of cancer in a cohort of patients with thrombocytosis, to determine how clinically useful this risk marker could be in predicting an underlying malignancy.

DESIGN AND SETTING:

A prospective cohort study using Clinical Practice Research Datalink data from 2000 to 2013.

METHOD:

The 1-year incidence of cancer was compared between two cohorts: 40 000 patients aged ≥40 years with a platelet count of >400 × 109/L (thrombocytosis) and 10 000 matched patients with a normal platelet count. Sub-analyses examined the risk with change in platelet count, sex, age, and different cancer sites.

RESULTS:

A total of 1098 out of 9435 males with thrombocytosis were diagnosed with cancer (11.6%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 11.0 to 12.3), compared with 106 of 2599 males without thrombocytosis (4.1%; 95% CI = 3.4 to 4.9). A total of 1355 out of 21 826 females with thrombocytosis developed cancer (6.2%; 95% CI = 5.9 to 6.5), compared with 119 of 5370 females without (2.2%; 95% CI = 1.8 to 2.6). The risk of cancer increased to 18.1% (95% CI = 15.9 to 20.5) for males and 10.1% (95% CI = 9.0 to 11.3) for females, when a second raised platelet count was recorded within 6 months. Lung and colorectal cancer were more commonly diagnosed with thrombocytosis. One-third of patients with thrombocytosis and lung or colorectal cancer had no other symptoms indicative of malignancy.

CONCLUSION:

Thrombocytosis is a risk marker of cancer in adults; 11.6% and 6.2% cancer incidence in males and females, respectively, is worthy of further investigation for underlying malignancy. These figures well exceed the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence-mandated risk threshold of 3% risk to warrant referral for suspected cancer.

KEYWORDS:

cancer; platelet count; positive predictive value; primary care; risk marker; thrombocytosis

Comment in

PMID:
28533199
PMCID:
PMC5442956
DOI:
10.3399/bjgp17X691109
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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