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Research roundup: June 2017

An overview of recent studies relating to cancer prevention and care.

Is the English Cancer Drugs Fund a waste of money?

An analysis of the English Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), published in Annals of Oncology, investigated the societal value of the scheme. The study argues that, as yet, the fund has not provided meaningful value to cancer patients, primarily because it has so far failed to collect mandatory outcome data while exposing patients to potentially ineffective and toxic treatments. Hence, the data are insufficient to determine whether the drugs funded have improved survival and quality of life or reduced toxicity.

The authors conclude that the drug appraisal process should include the thorough collection of outcome data and the use of a rigorous value framework, such as those developed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and European Society for Medical Oncology. Additionally, cancer drugs have to be reviewed within a wider assessment of cost-effectiveness relative to other health technologies.

Read the full article: Do patient access schemes for high-cost cancer drugs deliver value to society?—lessons from the NHS Cancer Drugs Fund

Patient perspective overlooked in intervention design

Although the principle of patient-centeredness is widely acknowledged, many mobile apps for cancer survivors are not rigorously tested by – and lack input from – patients, according to a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship. Mobile health apps have great potential for benefiting cancer survivors, but that potential won’t be met if patients aren’t involved in their development.

Read the full article: Achieving value in mobile health applications for cancer survivors

Online self-test for breast cancer risk shows positive outcomes

A trial in the Netherlands, published in the European Journal of Cancer, assessed whether an online self-test could identify women with a high familial breast cancer risk in population-based screening. Following a mammography visit, women with no history of breast cancer or previously diagnosed familial risk were invited to take an online test. Women were also assessed via questionnaires, both before and after taking the test, for anxiety, distress and breast cancer risk perception, with follow-up at two weeks.

Of the 562 women invited, 406 completed the online self-test and 304 also completed the questionnaires. A high or moderate familial breast cancer risk was identified in 4% and 1% of these women, respectively. After completion of the online self-test, anxiety and breast cancer risk perception were reduced, and 85% of the women said they would recommend the self-test. These findings suggest this simple online test may be an effective way to identify women with previously unknown high familial breast cancer risk, without inducing anxiety or distress.

Read the full article: Online self-test identifies women at high familial breast cancer risk in population-based breast cancer screening without inducing anxiety or distress