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More cancer research needed, says NICE

Newspage: ResearchThe Database of Cancer Uncertainties will help to "accelerate the process" of identifying areas for future cancer research, according to Professor Peter Littlejohns, clinical and public health director at NICE.

The database was launched in October last year as part of the Coordination of Cancer Clinical Practice Guidelines in Europe (CoCanCPG) consortium of 11 European countries, as a way of indentifying evidence gaps.

Speaking at a conference on cancer research at the British Library in London last week, Professor Littlejohns said that it was these gaps in evidence within the field of cancer that makes it one of the most challenging areas for NICE.

"NICE has to grapple with very immature data and use it to make decisions and policies.

"NICE can hardly ever say that it has not got the evidence it needs to produce guidance. We have to make the decisions based on the evidence we have.'

"Despite this, we rarely say no to drugs. We have only said no to 9 per cent of technology appraisals."

Every time we identify evidence gaps, we are keen to work with researchers to fill in those gaps, said Professor Littlejohns.

"We are keen to work with colleagues in Europe through the cancer uncertainties database to accelerate the process."

We would also like to work with individual companies to identify at an early stage what we would like to see in their research submissions, he added.

Other speakers at the conference acknowledged the difficulties facing NICE when evaluating cancer data.

Professor David Cameron, director of the National Cancer Research Network said: "The health economics are very rarely in the design of a trial. NICE has to work really hard to work out this data. Health purchasers are often left out of the loop until the end."

The cancer uncertainties database will provide a tool to bring these uncertainties together and allow them to be prioritised. The prioritisation process will include input from patients and clinicians. The prioritised uncertainties can then be promoted to research funders across the EU.

Tracking mechanisms will be developed to make sure that researchers do not duplicate research and help identify ongoing clinical trials. This project will complement and link with the other tools NICE has produced relating to research recommendations and uncertainties.

22 January 2010

This page was last updated: 14 April 2010

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Copyright 2014 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. All rights reserved.