NIH’s New Cancer Screening Research Network Could Help Determine Effective Cancer Screening Technologies

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched the Cancer Screening Research Network, a clinical trials network to evaluate emerging cancer screening technologies. The new network will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s Cancer Moonshot initiative by investigating how to identify cancer early.


“There are many cancers we still cannot reliably detect until it is so late that they become extremely difficult to treat,” stressed W. Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). “Emerging technologies such as multicancer detection tests could transform cancer screening and help to extend the lives of many more [patients]. We need to be sure that these technologies work and understand how to use them so they benefit everyone,” she emphasized.

Studies are still needed to determine how best to incorporate cancer screening technologies into the standard of care. 

Overview of the New Network

In 2024, the Cancer Screening Research Network will launch a pilot study known as the Vanguard Study on Multi-Cancer Detection to address the feasibility of using multicancer detection tests in future randomized controlled trials. Researchers will enroll up to 24,000 patients to inform the design of a much larger randomized controlled trial—which will examine whether the benefits of screening with multicancer detection tests may outweigh the harms and whether they can detect cancer early enough to reduce mortality.

The initial funding will provide resources for study coordination, communication activities, statistics and data management, and accrual and enrollment of participants into the studies and clinical trials. Eight institutions will receive funding from the NCI to carry out the early activities of the Cancer Screening Research Network. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center will serve as the network’s coordinating and communications as well as statistics and data management centers.

Among the seven additional funded institutions that will lead efforts to enroll participants in their geographic and coverage areas were:

  • Henry Ford Health and Michigan State University Health Sciences
  • Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, and Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine
  • OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences
  • University of Colorado Cancer Center
  • University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Virginia Commonwealth University, Inova, and Sentara Health
  • Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The Department of Defense Uniformed Services University and the Department of Veterans Affairs will also participate as sites funded by their respective agencies.

Through these studies, the network will aim to reach diverse and underserved populations receiving routine care in a variety of health-care settings from geographically distinct areas. Researchers will also come from a variety of disciplines that are actively engaged in cancer screening.


“We want to ensure that the organizations involved in this network will also be recruiting from populations historically underrepresented in clinical trials, which will make the data we generate as representative as possible. It is important to make sure that these new technologies benefit all Americans,” underscored Lori M. Minasian, MD, Deputy Director of the Division of Cancer Prevention at the NCI. “Our goal is to systematically evaluate cancer screening technologies to understand how best to use them to ultimately save lives. Data collected through these clinical trials can be used to develop evidence-based guidelines for cancer screening,” she concluded.

For more information on the Cancer Screening Research Network, visit

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.