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Essential research priorities in renal cancer: a modified delphi consensus statement

  • Sabrina H Rossi,
  • Christopher Blick,
  • Catherine Handforth,
  • Janet E Brown,
  • Grant D Stewart,
  • Renal Cancer Gap Analysis Collaborative

Publication: European Urology Focus, September 2021


Identification of clear and focused research priorities is crucial to drive research forward.


To identify research priorities in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) through a multidisciplinary collaboration between clinicians, researchers, and patients.

Design, setting, and participants

In phase I, 44 RCC experts provided 24 literature reviews within their field, summarising research gaps (RGs). Three expert discussion meetings and patient interviews were performed, and 39 potential RGs were identified. In phase II, experts (N = 82) scored these gaps on a nine-point scale (1–3: not important; 4–6: important; 7–9: critical) through a multistep Delphi process involving three online surveys and two further consensus meetings. The surveys aimed to reach a consensus, defined as ≥70% agreement by experts.

Outcome measurements and statistical analysis

Three iterations of the Delphi survey were performed. The results obtained after the third Delphi survey were distributed amongst the RCC experts and patient representatives for final feedback.

Results and limitations

In the first Delphi survey, the response rate was 56% (46/82), increasing to 67% (55/82) and 71% (58/82) in the second and third iterations, respectively. Survey respondents included 45.7% urologists, 37.0% oncologists, 8.7% radiologists, and 8.6% other specialists (pathologists, health economists, geneticist, and scientists). The process resulted in the identification of 14 crucial RGs, across a broad range of RCC themes. Key themes included further research into systemic therapies for RCC and management strategies that maximise quality of life, especially in patient groups that are “difficult to treat” and have rarer RCC subtypes. Two crucial RGs relate to biomarkers and novel imaging approaches for both localised and metastatic disease, to enable prognostic risk stratification and individualise patient management. Study participants were from a UK and European setting; therefore, we acknowledge that the RGs identified represent European priorities.


These RGs will facilitate international collaboration towards a concerted attempt to improve patients’ survival and quality of life.