Research Priorities

The main focus of NCU funded research is “clinical epidemiology,” defined as:

“Cancer research based on synergy between data from human individuals from at least two Nordic countries, or data from human individuals from one Nordic country and data/resources from another Nordic country, with focus on epidemiology, prevention, health promotion, diagnostics, therapy and rehabilitation.”


Formal criteria

To be eligible for NCU funding, the research projects must involve researchers working in two Nordic countries or more. Furthermore, the research projects must have cancer relevance, be uniquely suited to be carried out within the Nordic countries, and the effect of collaboration should be synergistic.

The prioritized research areas are:

Register-based epidemiological studies

There is a unique possibility for register-based epidemiological studies in the Nordic countries, and the NCU will continue to encourage more research in this field. The use of nationwide administrative and health registers and various population-based clinical databases facilitates cancer research initiatives within all prioritized research areas. These data sources may soon be combined with data from national biobanks, which will enhance the precision and biological relevance of the research.

Descriptive epidemiology

The NCU will continue to encourage intensified research within descriptive epidemiology. Research on trends in incidence, mortality and survival of cancer in the Nordic countries should be encouraged in order to identify fields in cancer prevention or management in which improvement is needed. Cross-country comparisons are imperative in 2 assessing current national strategic cancer programs and health care policies, and how they should be prioritized.

Comparative clinical epidemiological studies

In order to improve diagnosis and treatment, priority should be given to comparative clinical epidemiological studies that aim to elucidate optimal conditions for cancer diagnosis and best practice for treatment, follow up, rehabilitation and palliation. Studies may focus on medical, biological, physical, psychological and socioeconomical aspects of cancer and NCU will encourage research within all aspects of care.

Clinical trials

Finally, there should be focus on clinical trials. The number of clinical trials has decreased considerably in the Nordic countries in recent years. A large number of clinical trials are conducted in lower-cost countries and in larger patient populations than in the individual Nordic countries. Non-economic factors relating to, e.g., organizational aspects or Nordic participation in international networks of oncology, may also contribute to the decrease in clinical trial activity. Clinical trials require large patient groups, which may be difficult to achieve in the individual Nordic countries. By placing focus on clinical trials we wish to encourage more cooperation between the Nordic countries.

For more information, read NCU´s Research Strategy

(adopted by the Nordic Cancer Union Board on May 26th 2014)