Cancer Screening Research Network (CSRN)

The CSRN Structure

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has launched the Cancer Screening Research Network (CSRN) to evaluate emerging technologies for cancer screening. The CSRN will conduct rigorous, multi-center cancer screening trials with large and diverse populations in a variety of health care settings with the ultimate goal of reducing cancer-related illnesses and deaths. The CSRN supports the prevention goals of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Cancer Moonshotsm initiative by investigating how to identify cancers earlier, when they may be easier to treat.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle serves as the coordinating and communications center and the statistics and data management center. The nine accrual and enrollment hubs will lead efforts to enroll participants in their geographic and coverage areas. The Department of Defense Uniformed Services University and the Department of Veterans Affairs are funded by their respective agencies to take part.

New emerging technologies, including Multi-Cancer Detection assays (MCDs), are rapidly coming forward for commercial availability, though a variety of challenges exist in the design and conduct of randomized controlled trials that evaluate MCD tests to screen for multiple different cancers. Studies are needed to evaluate the benefits and harms of these emerging technologies for cancer screening and to determine how best to incorporate these technologies into the standard of care. Only clinical trials that follow many people over time can determine if the potential benefits outweigh the potential harms.

In 2024, the CSRN will launch a pilot study, called the Vanguard study, to address the feasibility of using MCD tests in future randomized controlled trials. The study will enroll up to 24,000 people to inform the design of a much larger randomized controlled trial. This larger trial will evaluate whether the benefits of using MCD tests to screen for cancer outweigh the harms, and whether they can detect cancer early in a way that reduces deaths.