Cancer clinical trials in Finland: Challenges and Opportunities

Cancer rates are increasing worldwide as the population ages. In Finland alone, 32.799 people were diagnosed with cancer in 2015 and 12.338 people succumbed to the disease ( Finnish Cancer Registry). The total cost of cancer in Finland was 927 million € in 20141. These costs do not just include primary and secondary care, but also the cost of cancer screening, the indirect costs for sick leave (exceeding 10 working days) and disability pensions.

Cancer clinical trials seek to determine the safety and efficacy of new drugs or treatment methods and are essential for such drugs or treatment methods to enter the market and to be used in patients. Such trials not only offer outstanding benefits to cancer patients and hospitals in the form of access to novel drugs and savings in drug costs, they also offer possibilities to define the methods for optimal use of new drugs. The take up of new drugs in routine clinical care will be fastest in hospitals that have been active in organizing cancer clinical trials. Due to the significant impact of cancer clinical trials on cancer care, research, society and the economy, many large-scale efforts have been undertaken around the world to create clinical trial-facilitating environments on a local, regional and national level. Currently, 64.651 cancer clinical trials are registered at clinicaltrials.gov.

This report provides an analysis of cancer clinical trials in Finland and shows that in cancer clinical trials Finland is significantly lagging behind many socio-economically similar countries throughout Europe. The current low level of cancer clinical trials in Finland may slow down the uptake of new cancer drugs to routine care. Increasing the number of cancer clinical trials in Finland will provide patients with better treatment options, create jobs, reduce health care costs, contribute to the Finnish economy and move Finland to the forefront of clinical cancer research. The reportprovides recommended actions to increase the number of cancer clinical trials as part of the national growth strategy in health sector.

For more information about the report or personalized datasets, please contact Jeroen Pouwels: jeroen.pouwels@helsinki.fi


1Cancer costs and outcomes in the Finnish population 2004-2014; Torkki, et al., 2017, Acta Oncologica, Vol: 57, Issue 2, Page: 579-583.