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  Table of Contents  
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 52  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 561-562
 

Bridging the gap between biostatisticians and oncologists: Need of the hour in comprehensive cancer research


1 Department of Radiaton Oncology, Malabar Cancer, Thalassery, Kerala, India
2 Division of Clinical Research and Biostatistics, Malabar Cancer, Thalassery, Kerala, India
3 Department of Surgical Oncology, Malabar Cancer, Thalassery, Kerala, India

Date of Web Publication10-Mar-2016

Correspondence Address:
A Bhattacharjee
Division of Clinical Research and Biostatistics, Malabar Cancer, Thalassery, Kerala
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-509X.178428

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How to cite this article:
Bhattacharyya T, Bhattacharjee A, Balasubramanian S. Bridging the gap between biostatisticians and oncologists: Need of the hour in comprehensive cancer research. Indian J Cancer 2015;52:561-2

How to cite this URL:
Bhattacharyya T, Bhattacharjee A, Balasubramanian S. Bridging the gap between biostatisticians and oncologists: Need of the hour in comprehensive cancer research. Indian J Cancer [serial online] 2015 [cited 2019 Dec 15];52:561-2. Available from: http://www.indianjcancer.com/text.asp?2015/52/4/561/178428


Sir,

With the emergence of evidence-based approaches, biostatistics plays an important role in the field of oncology. However, in India, there is an immense gap between the clinicians and biostatisticians and bridging this gap is the need of the hour.


  A Wide Gap between Clinicians and Biostatisticians in India Top


The western researchers are advancing their respective areas of application by developing methods for the analysis of functional data, with particular expertise in different areas such as genomics and dose-response modeling. However, in India, situation is quite gloomy. With increasing burden of cancer clinicians do not have enough time and vision to enter all the required data in the case files. Most of the case files do not have adequate documentation of the facts due to lack of time and ideas of study objectives. For conducting any study most of the oncologists even do not know that statistics is required from the stage of planning of the proposal, rather they feel that a statisticians help is required only after the data collection gets completed. Most clinicians are interested mainly in deriving the P value without establishing the hypothesis. When a clinician conducts a study similar to a previously published article in western literature, they tend to adopt the same statistical test that was used prior without properly exploring their data. They are using commercial software for analysis of their data through trial and error basis without having an optimum understanding of statistical tools. Clinicians are not the experts of mathematical science. However, they should have an understanding of the final equation of a statistical methodology. They try to avoid understanding all those equations and methodology because nobody is there to make those equations understandable for them.

With a recent increase in a number of medical and pharmacy related research, the demand of trained biostatistician is also increasing. However, their inflow towards cancer institute is not satisfactory and they are moving toward pharmaceutical industries. With the above backdrop, availability of sufficient people with expertise in biostatistics is very much required. It is to be noted that the number of biostatistics departments is significantly low as compared to the existing regional cancer center (RCC) in India. Even in those few biostatistics departments very limited developments have been observed toward contribution in practice changing therapeutic interventions rather than cancer registry work on a routine basis.

The demand for application of biostatistics is increasing in India, but this is not in tune with the number of biostatisticians produced. Vacancies for a biostatistician, in general, are not filled very easily because of the availability of small numbers of trained persons in this area.[1] In the majority of medical colleges, biostatistics is being taught by faculties who are not trained biostatisticians. However, there is a still need to be more innovative in teaching biostatistics by taking real life examples to attract students by trained biostatistician.[2]


  Recent Trends and Developments Top


Western institutes are utilizing a range of technologies to characterize the genomes, exomes, transcriptomes, proteomes, and methylomes of a wide range of cancer types through data analysis. Especially, cancer research area boosts the development of biostatistician techniques such as survival analysis, longitudinal data analysis, multi-arm multi-phase trials, and continual reassessment dose-finding methods. The scientific application of clinical trial methods developed enormously due to the bridging the gap between biostatistics and oncology in the west.

Different biostatistics departments in developed countries are dedicated in application and extension of different statistical approaches to cancer research. However, India is not up to the mark. We have country of over billion people with a diverse ethnic groups and heterogeneity. We have amazing genetic variation more than any other country perhaps in the world. Most of the cancer institute's in India do not have genomics laboratory and trained biostatisticians to handle big gene expressions data.

Recommendations

All medical colleges in India should have separate departments of biostatistics. At the undergraduate level, a biostatistics and research orientation has to be taught as a separate discipline by trained faculties of biostatistics. Majority of the medical colleges in India are running biostatistics course under the umbrella of the Department of Community Medicine. It has been noticed that faculties from community medicine are well trained only with a click and drag software to demonstrate the statistical application in medical graduate students. Persons with statistics and mathematical background need to be promoted to work out the solutions for medical, analytical problems, which may help us in bridging the gap between BioStatisticians and Oncologists.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
Singh R, Zodpey SP, Sharma K, Bangdiwala SI, Ughade S. Landscaping biostatistics education in India. Indian J Public Health 2012;56:273-80.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
2.
Asif H, Asim B, Awais M. Importance and understanding of bio-statistics among post graduate students at King Edward Medical University Lahore – Pakistan. Ann King Edward Med Univ 2009;15:107-10.  Back to cited text no. 2
    




 

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