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In the late 1990 s, in response to poor national cancer survival figures, government monies were invested to enhance recruitment to clinical cancer research. Commencing with England in 2001 and then rolling out across all four countries, a network of clinical cancer research infrastructure was created, the new staff being linked to existing clinical care structures including multi-disciplinary teams. In parallel, a UK-wide co-ordination of cancer research funders driven by the 'virtual' National Cancer Research Institute, combined to create a 'whole-system approach' linking research funders, researchers and NHS clinicians all working to the same ends. Over the next 10 years, recruitment to clinical trials and other well-designed studies, increased 4-fold, reaching 17% of the incident cancer population, the highest national rate world-wide. The additional resources led to more studies opened, and more patients recruited across the country, for all types of cancers and irrespective of additional clinical research staff in some hospitals. In 2006, a co-ordinated decision was made to increasingly focus on randomized trials, leading to increased recruitment, without any fall-off in accrual to non-randomized and observational studies. The National Cancer Research Network has supported large successful trials which are changing clinical practice in many cancers.

Original publication




Journal article


Ann Oncol

Publication Date



22 Suppl 7


vii29 - vii35


Biomedical Research, Humans, Medical Oncology, Neoplasms, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, State Medicine, Treatment Outcome, United Kingdom