Critical research gaps and recommendations to inform research prioritisation for more effective prevention and improved outcomes in colorectal cancer.
Lawler M., Alsina D., Adams RA., Anderson AS., Brown G., Fearnhead NS., Fenwick SW., Halloran SP., Hochhauser D., Hull MA., Koelzer VH., McNair AGK., Monahan KJ., Näthke I., Norton C., Novelli MR., Steele RJC., Thomas AL., Wilde LM., Wilson RH., Tomlinson I., Bowel Cancer UK Critical Research Gaps in Colorectal Cancer Initiative None.
OBJECTIVE: Colorectal cancer (CRC) leads to significant morbidity/mortality worldwide. Defining critical research gaps (RG), their prioritisation and resolution, could improve patient outcomes. DESIGN: RG analysis was conducted by a multidisciplinary panel of patients, clinicians and researchers (n=71). Eight working groups (WG) were constituted: discovery science; risk; prevention; early diagnosis and screening; pathology; curative treatment; stage IV disease; and living with and beyond CRC. A series of discussions led to development of draft papers by each WG, which were evaluated by a 20-strong patient panel. A final list of RGs and research recommendations (RR) was endorsed by all participants. RESULTS: Fifteen critical RGs are summarised below: RG1: Lack of realistic models that recapitulate tumour/tumour micro/macroenvironment; RG2: Insufficient evidence on precise contributions of genetic/environmental/lifestyle factors to CRC risk; RG3: Pressing need for prevention trials; RG4: Lack of integration of different prevention approaches; RG5: Lack of optimal strategies for CRC screening; RG6: Lack of effective triage systems for invasive investigations; RG7: Imprecise pathological assessment of CRC; RG8: Lack of qualified personnel in genomics, data sciences and digital pathology; RG9: Inadequate assessment/communication of risk, benefit and uncertainty of treatment choices; RG10: Need for novel technologies/interventions to improve curative outcomes; RG11: Lack of approaches that recognise molecular interplay between metastasising tumours and their microenvironment; RG12: Lack of reliable biomarkers to guide stage IV treatment; RG13: Need to increase understanding of health related quality of life (HRQOL) and promote residual symptom resolution; RG14: Lack of coordination of CRC research/funding; RG15: Lack of effective communication between relevant stakeholders. CONCLUSION: Prioritising research activity and funding could have a significant impact on reducing CRC disease burden over the next 5 years.