Help us to stop bowel cancer

Critical gaps

Investigating the gaps in bowel cancer research, the critical gaps project is the most comprehensive review of bowel cancer research ever to take place in the UK. 

We brought together over 100 leading cancer experts and patients to identify the key gaps in bowel cancer research which, if addressed, will have the most impact on people affected by the disease.

Who is involved?

The critical gaps project brings together leading colorectal cancer researchers, healthcare professionals and patients from across the UK. The project is co-chaired by Professor Richard Wilson and Professor Ian Tomlinson.

Professor Richard Wilson

Clinical Director of the Northern Ireland Cancer Trials Centre and Network at Queen’s University Belfast

Chair of the National Cancer Research Institute Colorectal Cancer Clinical Studies Group

Professor Ian Tomlinson

Professor of Molecular and Population Genetics at the Wellcome Trust for Human Genetics

Group head of Molecular and Population Genetics at Oxford Biomedical Research Centre

Our progress so far

Working groups

Experts were grouped into eight different working groups, covering different themes across the patient pathway: 

  • Risk
  • Prevention
  • Screening and early diagnosis
  • Curative treatment
  • Stage 4 bowel cancer
  • Living with and beyond bowel cancer
  • Basic science
  • Pathology, imaging and diagnostics

During working group meetings, participants were asked to consider:

  • The key gaps that have the most potential to improve patient outcomes
  • The impact of filling these gaps
  • Future research needs
  • Major challenges and barriers

The results

The final working group meetings took place in July 2016. Each group outlined key gaps, future research recommendations and possible challenges and barriers that stand in the way.  

This process gave a fantastic snapshot of what academics thought, but it was vital that the views of patients, carers and those more widely affected by bowel cancer were also captured.

We held a patient panel in August where nearly 30 people gave their views on the priorities identified in the reports and helped guide the recommendations for the final publication. 

In September 2016, the critical gaps steering group reviewed the group reports and produced a list of the top themes and research questions for each area. 

Next steps

The findings of the project will be submitted to a scientific journal and published in 2017.

The project has the power to act as a catalyst for change, and along with the implementation of our long term research strategy, will help us to impact thousands of lives in the future. 

Never before has such an ambitious, wide-ranging project been undertaken to identify key gaps in bowel cancer research. It has huge potential to make a real difference for patients. Professor Richard Wilson
We are determined to save lives from bowel cancer but we can’t do this without you. Support vital research and lifesaving work to stop bowel cancer.
We are determined to save lives from bowel cancer but we can’t do this without you. Support vital research and lifesaving work to stop bowel cancer.