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Cancer affects more than 14 million people worldwide each year and is a leading cause of death in adults in the UK. As the population ages, the incidence of many cancers is increasing, but the number of people living with cancer also continues to increase. In the UK the survival rate overall has now improved to over 50%.

This is because of improvements in treatments, which prolong people's lives, and because some cancers are being detected earlier, as a result of screening.

There have been some major advances in the treatment of cancer in the past 20 years. These are built upon multiple modest improvements in treatment and detection, which become clear when they are tested in randomised clinical trials. These trials are the main focus of the MRC CTU at UCL.

Useful links:

Cancer Research UK

The Institute of Cancer Research

International Agency for Research on Cancer


The majority of our work in cancer involves the design, conduct and analysis of clinical trials, covering many different types of cancer. Most of our trials are large randomised controlled trials, which compare two or more treatments including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, biological agents, surgery or combinations of these. In some trials, we also test new diagnostic strategies or non-therapeutic approaches such as different follow-up policies.

Our trials compare treatments by looking at survival, return of disease, side effects and quality of life.

We also work closely with the Unit's meta-analysis group

Our research strategy in the coming years:

Our particular strengths lie in developing innovative clinical trials which sometimes relate to specific types of cancer but often can be applied more broadly. Our current and future research can broadly be classified into three main programmes:

1. Speeding up therapeutic evaluation by implementing new trial designs and methodology

2. Stratified medicine and translational science within large scale randomised trials

3. Trials that are particularly challenging or which have potential global reach

chemotherapy sign


11 April 2018

As the STAMPEDE trial recruits its 10,000th participant, we would like to mark this milestone and take the opportunity to thank everyone involved, particularly participants and their families, all the hundreds of hospital staff involved and the staff at the MRC CTU at UCL. It would not be possible to help improve care for men with advanced prostate cancer without the dedication and continued involvement of all of these people.

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A randomised trial of hormone therapy plus radical radiotherapy versus hormone therapy alone in non-metastatic prostate cancer

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James, N.D., Spears, M.R., Sydes, M.

Abiraterone in metastatic prostate cancer. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2017; 377:1696-7

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