Sheila Prindiville
Sheila Prindiville, MD, medical officer at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD

As reported to Chris Pirschel by Sheila Prindiville, MD.

As part of the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative and in collaboration with the Presidential Innovation Fellows, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) developed and launched a new website in 2016. It provides user-friendly access to the repository of abstracts of cancer clinical trials that NCI supported. At the same time, NCI made its clinical trial information available through an application programming interface (API), which allows third-party innovators, such as cancer centers, researchers, and advocacy groups, to customize clinical trial search tools for their own purposes.

The launch of was NCI’s first step toward improving access to cancer clinical trials information. In September 2017, NCI will release a reengineered advanced search form on the website that incorporates dropdown menus and type-ahead functions and improves the precision of retrieval by using more cancer-specific search terms.

Oncology nurses can take advantage of these improvements in two ways:

  1. With the release of the advanced search form on in September 2017, oncology nurses will be able to search for NCI-supported cancer clinical trials with greater precision. This should facilitate the identification of relevant cancer clinical trials at the point of need.
  2. Oncology nurses can work with their office technology partners to directly use the clinical trials API to create customized digital clinical trial information for their patients and practices.

Following the launch of the advanced search form, NCI will continue to work with the cancer community to improve clinical trial search by bringing even greater precision to trial retrieval. One approach is the development and implementation of structured eligibility criteria. NCI has piloted structured eligibility by abstracting biomarkers used for clinical trial eligibility using standardized terminology, making them available in the API.

Our goal is to allow patients and providers to better identify relevant cancer clinical trials at the point of need. We hope this leads to increased participant accrual to clinical trials, ultimately accelerating the pace of cancer clinical research.

NCI welcomes feedback regarding its cancer clinical trial search forms and looks forward to working with the community to further improve the content and accessibility of its clinical trial information.