Defining the Surgical Contribution to Cancer Research in the UK


Session type:


Richard Shaw1,Shamaila Anwar1,Jonathan Gower1,Nigel Bundred1,Matthew Seymour1
1NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer



Recruitment into surgical oncology studies is an explicit NIHR strategic objective however data on this important aspect of cancer research has not previously been comprehensively analysed. The aim of this study is to define and analyse the surgical oncology portfolio and recruitment into the relevant studies during 2015/16.


The NCRI Clinical Studies Groups and NIHR CRN(Cancer) team identified surgical intervention studies, or those where surgeons were the principal recruiters. Data for study recruitment was extracted from the NIHR CRN portfolio database for the 2015/16 financial year.


Within the 1,005 cancer studies and 56,300 patients recruited to the cancer portfolio, 122 (12%) were classified as surgical studies with 8,295 (15%) patients entered into surgical studies. Only 33% of patients were recruited into observational studies for surgery (68% for entire cancer portfolio). 76% of surgical studies recruited to time and target and only 6% of surgical trials were commercially sponsored. The NCRI CSGs with the greatest contribution to the surgical oncology portfolio were breast (20 studies) combined urology (34) lung (12) and colorectal (14).  There was a wide geographical variation with some networks recruiting three times the number of patients/head of population than others.


This study clearly shows that the surgery specialty makes a very significant contribution to cancer research in the UK accounting for 15% of the recruitment into cancer studies. The impact of surgical oncology is further reinforced by the high proportion of interventional studies. Despite the challenges associated with research studies involving a surgical component, it is impressive that 76% of the studies were, or had recruited to time and target.  This data provides an important baseline for future comparison and, for the first time, allows critical analysis of the widely differing contributions between surgical specialties and regions.