Building interdisciplinary research networks to improve cancer control
13 June 2023
The BLOTTED study has established a network of researchers at various career stages interested in blood test trend for cancer detection. Blood test trend might tell GPs more information than single blood test results. A small change from a steady trend could be more useful for identifying patients at risk of undiagnosed cancer than waiting for a blood test value to fall outside a fixed “normal” range.
The BLOTTED collaboration includes Masters and Doctoral students across institutions, each focusing on particular blood tests for particular cancer types. Post-doctoral researchers including clinicians, epidemiologists, statisticians, and data scientists will apply traditional statistical methods and machine learning to investigate the problem. Early-career researchers are working with us to gain work experience in various aspects of observational research.
The 14th annual Cancer and Primary Care Research International Network (Ca-PRI) Conference provided a forum for research networks to develop and grow. At the early-mid career researcher’s dinner, I discussed our recent research on blood test trend for colorectal cancer and our plans for the BLOTTED study going forward. It was attended by researchers from a wide range of disciplines, including clinical trainees, epidemiologists, and health economists. Our discussions established new collaborations and developed fresh ideas for future research. We discussed the cost-effectiveness of repeated blood testing and whether these outweigh the costs associated with late-stage cancer diagnosis and providing training for doctors and patients in order to maximise early detection rates through blood test trend. We considered the potential clinical application of blood test trends and the necessary methodological development required to permit this.
Following Ca-PRI, Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) representatives provided encouraging comments about our research and invited us to present at an educational session for PPIE representatives at the UK Colorectal Cancer Intelligence Hub. This provided a further platform to grow our research network, with an audience of PPIE representatives requesting to be kept up to date on how the study progresses and offering additional PPIE input into the study. The current BLOTTED PPIE group consists of nine diverse individuals experienced in cancer. Expanding our research network to include additional PPIE representatives would further increase representation of diverse perspectives towards cancer diagnosis and management and increase our capacity to reach patients who may ultimately benefit from using blood test trend to improve early detection of cancer.
If you are interested in cancer research in primary care and would like to discuss collaborating please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org