In October 2011, the CCRA released, Report on the State of Cancer Clinical Trials in Canada, which outlined the issues facing cancer clinical trials in Canada and recommendations on how these issues could be resolved. One of the key recommendations was the creation of a pan-Canadian cooperative program to facilitate the initiation and conduct of academic cancer clinical trials in Canada that would link to and build upon the strengths of Canada’s existing clinical trials groups.
The Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network (3CTN) was created in 2013 with two main overarching goals: (1) to strengthen Canada’s capability and capacity to conduct practice-changing cancer clinical trials developed by the academic sector and (2) to improve patient outcomes. The Network was established by the collective efforts of physicians, research staff, clinical trial experts and important Canadian “partner” organizations. With its coordinating centre in Ontario, 3CTN currently has membership of more than 70 cancer centres and 14 funders. These partnerships demonstrate the broad commitment to improving Canada’s cancer clinical trial enterprise.
Over the past three years, 3CTN has made substantial progress in addressing the concerns raised by CCRA. It has:
• catalyzed improvements in trial recruitment, quality and efficiency
• facilitated greater communication across sites about trial opportunities
• fostered patient and public involvement
These activities have unified and connected Canada’s cancer clinical trial centres, creating collaborations between larger and smaller centres that have increased capacity to conduct trials and improved trial access for patients treated at smaller centres.
The 3CTN Portfolio is unique as no other resource tracks academic trial activity in Canada. Trials for specific diseases and treatment modalities can be evaluated over time to ensure that priorities of stakeholder groups including investigators, patients and funders are addressed. The collection of site performance metrics on a national scale represents a critical step forward for the entire Canadian cancer research enterprise. Analysis of these performance metrics in the near future will provide beneficial information to all cancer research stakeholders.