Research Article| Volume 33, SUPPLEMENT 4, S23-S30, May 1997

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The challenges and opportunities of cancer clinical research: EORTC perspectives

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      While substantial gains have been made in the early diagnosis and successful treatment of cancer, it continues to be the second most common cause of death in European Community countries. It is imperative to develop new preventive and early detection strategies, to evaluate and implement new and more effective treatments, and to disseminate the most current information as rapidly and efficiently as possible to the largest number of clinicians and patients. The most complete and reliable information about a new diagnostic test or state-of-the-art treatment advance continues to come from the progression of laboratory work to early clinical trials to appropriate large, multicentre clinical trials. In order for this process to continue, it has become necessary for research programmes throughout Europe to integrate scientific disciplines, pool available resources, and establish adequate facilities to coordinate, oversee and facilitate high-quality research efforts. An important force in this cooperative movement has been the establishment of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC). The aim of the EORTC is to conduct, develop, coordinate, and stimulate research related to all aspects of the experimental and clinical treatment of cancer throughout Europe. Close cooperation with national research organisations has been created and EORTC objectives are now achieved by multidisciplinary research groups including radiotherapists, surgeons, oncologists, pathologists, immunologists, infectiologists, specialists in quality-of-life assessment, health economists, and other categories of scientists. Currently the EORTC investigators consist of a unique network involving more than 300 institutions working on a voluntary basis. Preclinical and early clinical trials are coordinated through the EORTC New Drug Development Office (NDDO) based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands while all other studies are coordinated by the EORTC Data Centre based in Brussels, Belgium. Speciality units (Investigational Agents, Leukaemia, Quality of Life, Health Economics, Meta-analysis, and Quality Assurance) also have been created at the EORTC Headquarters to coordinate all specific aspects of large cancer clinical trials and to increase the efficiency and quality of services. Several new EORTC groups have been formed to address emerging needs and concerns. Additionally, an Education Office has been set up as well as an EORTC Fellowship Programme to provide training to a variety of professionals interested in cancer clinical research methodology, in order to guarantee high quality clinical research in Europe and to promote dissemination of the results, thereby improving quality of cancer care for all patients, not only those treated in research-oriented institutions.

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