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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2015 Jul 15;92(4):721-31. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2015.03.011. Epub 2015 Mar 18.

Does Cancer Literature Reflect Multidisciplinary Practice? A Systematic Review of Oncology Studies in the Medical Literature Over a 20-Year Period.

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Division of Radiation Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida.
Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California.
Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Division of Radiation Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas. Electronic address:



Quality cancer care is best delivered through a multidisciplinary approach requiring awareness of current evidence for all oncologic specialties. The highest impact journals often disseminate such information, so the distribution and characteristics of oncology studies by primary intervention (local therapies, systemic therapies, and targeted agents) were evaluated in 10 high-impact journals over a 20-year period.


Articles published in 1994, 2004, and 2014 in New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Journal of the American Medical Association, Lancet Oncology, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Annals of Oncology, Radiotherapy and Oncology, International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics, Annals of Surgical Oncology, and European Journal of Surgical Oncology were identified. Included studies were prospectively conducted and evaluated a therapeutic intervention.


A total of 960 studies were included: 240 (25%) investigated local therapies, 551 (57.4%) investigated systemic therapies, and 169 (17.6%) investigated targeted therapies. More local therapy trials (n=185 [77.1%]) evaluated definitive, primary treatment than systemic (n=178 [32.3%]) or targeted therapy trials (n=38 [22.5%]; P<.001). Local therapy trials (n=16 [6.7%]) also had significantly lower rates of industry funding than systemic (n=207 [37.6%]) and targeted therapy trials (n=129 [76.3%]; P<.001). Targeted therapy trials represented 5 (2%), 38 (10.2%), and 126 (38%) of those published in 1994, 2004, and 2014, respectively (P<.001), and industry-funded 48 (18.9%), 122 (32.6%), and 182 (54.8%) trials, respectively (P<.001). Compared to publication of systemic therapy trial articles, articles investigating local therapy (odds ratio: 0.025 [95% confidence interval: 0.012-0.048]; P<.001) were less likely to be found in high-impact general medical journals.


Fewer studies evaluating local therapies, such as surgery and radiation, are published in high-impact oncology and medicine literature. Further research and attention are necessary to guide efforts promoting appropriate representation of all oncology studies in high-impact, broad-readership journals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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