Systematic Review or Meta-Analysis in Cancer Research
A section of Cancers (ISSN 2072-6694).
Aims and scope
Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are considered the highest level in the “pyramid of evidence”. In clinical practice guidelines, it is recommended that multiple studies are conducted in the same setting, and, in this case, a systematic review (with meta-analysis) really helps to produce a summary of the effect. This also helps to describe, and potentially to interpret, the heterogeneity among different studies conducted in the same setting.
The role of systematic reviews and meta-analyses is particularly challenging in the recent era of “personalized treatment”, when treatment choices are increasingly based on the characteristics of a single tumour, and evidence about the activity and efficacy of each treatment is often limited to one pivotal trial. However, even in this era, many issues can be the subject of a systematic review and meta-analysis, based on individual patient data or data abstracted from the literature.
Importantly, the role of systematic reviews and meta-analyses in cancer research is not limited to treatment issues, but to all aspects of cancer biology and cancer care. Papers can be focused on the molecular characterization of cases, diagnostic issues and the evaluation of prognostic factors.