ICBP partnership

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Quarterly newsletters with updates on research, new findings and relevant international conferences.

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The International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership is an innovative global partnership of clinicians, academics, data experts and policymakers. It is the first of its kind aiming to quantify international differences in cancer survival and to identify factors that might influence observed variations.

ICBP researchers use a range of approaches to deliver high quality and policy-relevant findings. Our work generates the insights needed for policy and practice changes to improve the outcomes of cancer patients. These findings are relevant for all ICBP partners and, potentially, beyond.

We are thought leaders in understanding international variation in cancer outcomes, so that our findings are translated into policy action.

The ICBP was set up in 2009 to unpick reasons that cancer survival variation exists across similar countries. Although previous studies at this point had shown that this variation existed, no other study had tried to explore the factors that might contribute on this international scale.

The ICBP offers jurisdictions with comparable health systems a chance to learn from each other’s experiences. Our high-quality research and our partners’ strong desire to deliver the best cancer services possible for their patients allows them to make robust, evidence-based decisions about how cancer services can be improved.

In Phase 1, the ICBP benchmarked cancer outcomes to quantify, using the best data available, exactly what the survival variation was between countries. This covered four cancer types: breast, colorectal, lung and ovary. Unlike other research programmes, the ICBP also explored why this survival variation exists, focusing on four research themes, detailed below.

In Phase 2, the ICBP will expand to eight cancer types (colon, rectum, lung, ovary, oesophagus, stomach pancreas and liver). The programme will update the cancer benchmark, using the most current survival methods and covering the years 1997 to 2014. It will also expand on some of the findings from Phase 1 to further unpick factors that could be causing international cancer survival variation.

The partnership includes 22 jurisdictions across 8 countries and 3 continents, including:

  • Australia: New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.
  • Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan.
  • Denmark
  • Ireland
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Sweden (phase 1 only)
  • The United Kingdom: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

To participate in the partnership jurisdictions must have:

  • High quality and long-standing population-based cancer registration with good coverage, to ensure that cancer survival results represent the entire population
  • Primary care led and universal access to health care – for which there will be similar policy considerations.
  • Broadly comparable wealth and similar expenditure on healthcare provision
  • A willingness to commit significant time, enthusiasm and funding to participate in an international collaboration.

The research programme focusses on 8 cancers:

ICBP cancer typesCancer of the lung, colon and rectum are common and contribute a large share of the burden of disease in developed countries and for which significant survival differences exist.

Liver, ovarian, pancreas, stomach and oesophageal cancers are less common and involve more complex diagnostic pathways. Mortality is high and large survival differences exist across participating jurisdictions.

Breast cancer represents a significant burden of disease but there have been many advances in the detection and treatment of breast cancer over recent years. Survival is high and broadly similar across all participating jurisdictions. While breast cancer remains of interest, going forward, it will no longer be a specific focus within our research.

The structure of the partnership is outlined below:

ICBP Chair and Deputy Chair

The partnership is led by ICBP Chair, Heather Bryant (Chief Scientific Officer, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer), and Deputy Chair, David Currow (CEO, Cancer Institute NSW).

ICBP Programme Board

The Programme Board is the key decision-making body within the partnership. The Board includes representatives from each participating jurisdiction. Many board members have a clinical or academic background in cancer alongside their current senior administrative roles. The Board meets by teleconference up to 5 times per year to review progress.

Meet the ICBP Programme Board

Research working groups

Each ICBP research working group is led by the Principal Investigator(s) and includes local leads from each jurisdiction. The Principal Investigator is the senior researcher responsible for the day-to-day delivery of that research project. Local leads work closely with the central academic team, adding local context to, and providing constructive feedback on, ongoing research and findings.

A central academic group and clinical committees provide support and advice to ensure the research is of the highest standard. Research chairs provide independent oversight, advice and support to the Principal Investigator(s).

Meet the Phase 1 Working groups

Clinical committees

ICBP clinical committees provide expert advice at all stages of the research, from method design to result interpretation. Our clinical committee members also act as local champions who help translate findings into impact. The committees are led by ICBP Clinical Advisor John Butler (Consultant Gynaecological Oncology Surgeon, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust).

Find out about the ICBP clinicians

Academic Reference Groups (ARGs)

ARG members provide independent, constructive feedback on all phases of our research. Members are selected based on their expertise and provide a friendly challenge to researchers. They work to ensure outputs meet academic standards, as expected for publication in leading journals.

Meet our phase 2 ARGs 

The Programme Management team

Cancer Research UK provides programme management support on behalf of all partners. The Programme Management team facilitates the delivery of the international research, providing a first-line review of progress and helping to resolve challenges that arise. Communication of the findings and impacts of the ICBP are a key element of our work.

The team are also responsible for delivering two of the Phase 2 research projects (Access to Diagnostics and Access to Optimal Treatment).

Meet the ICBP Programme Management Team

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If you have any questions or comments we would like to hear from you.

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