The state of academic cancer surgery in the UK

S. Eckhousea & R. Sullivan

June 04, 2008 by Prof. Sullivan in ICP Reports

Despite media and public perception to the contrary cancer surgery is the most important modality for the control and cure of cancer. However, after years of underinvestment by research funders and increasing service delivery demands the academic cancer surgeon is an endangered species. In an effort to improve evidence-based policymaking in this critical domain of cancer research the ECRM has conducted a semi-quantitative assess- ment of the state of academic cancer surgery in the UK. We have found that the percentage of investment in cancer surgical technologies R&D is less than 1% and even when this is extended to other diseases then this figure is still less than 1%. A decline in the overall numbers of academic surgical staff is paralleled by our finding that over 50% of the aca- demic cancer surgeons in this survey had insufficient time for research. With clinical trials and surgical technology development identified as key research domains the majority (60–80%) did not perceive any benefit for surgical research in these areas as a result of the creation of the UK National Cancer Research Institute. We also found high support for academic surgery from colleagues but medium–low support from many institutions. Key policy conclusions are: (1) greater hypothecated investment by research funders, par- ticularly for the development of surgical technologies as well as clinical trials, and (2) the creation of cancer surgery centres of excellence which have sufficient staffing and institutional support to engendered a creative academic environment…

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