Mapping the European cancer research landscape: An evidence base for national and Pan-European research and funding.Eur J Cancer. 2018 09; 100:75-84.EJ
Cancer research is among the most active biomedical research domains for the European Union (EU). However, little quantitative empirical evidence is available to guide the decisions on the choice of disease site to study, specific research domain focus or allocation of research resources. To inform national/supranational cancer research policy, high-resolution intelligence is needed.
We performed a bibliometric analysis of European cancer research papers in the Web of Science from 2002 to 2013 to quantify research activity in each of the 28 EU Member States, along with Iceland, Norway and Switzerland (EUR31), which cancer sites/research domains they addressed, and their sources of financial support (2009-2013).
Cancer research papers from EUR31 correlated well with national Gross Domestic Products (r2 = 0.94). However, certain cancer sites (lung, oesophagus and pancreas) were under-researched relative to their disease burden, whereas central nervous system and blood cancers were more generously supported than their burden would warrant. An analysis of research domains indicated a paucity of research on radiotherapy (5%), palliative care (1.2%) and quality of life (0.5%). European cancer research funding in 2012-2013 amounted to ∼€7.6 billion and came from diverse sources, especially in western Europe/Scandinavia, where in nine countries the charitable sector outspent the government but not in Eastern Europe where charitable research funding barely exists.
Several countries need to increase their cancer research outputs substantially, and/or alter their research portfolios to better match their growing (and changing) cancer burden. More co-ordination among funding agencies is required, so that resources can be attuned to align activities to research gaps and perceived clinical needs. In Eastern Europe, the charitable funding sector needs to be developed, so that both public and patient advocacy can have an active role in research.