Collaborators' meetings are large meetings, involving all types of specialists treating cancers grouped according to the programmes of trials in particular cancer sites. A collaborators' meeting thus involves a whole programme oftrials and might take place once every one to two years. Participants might include clinicians collaborating in the current programme or with an interest in doing so, expert advisers, and representatives from other groups conducting trials in the same area.

The main purpose of these meetings is for soliciting, documenting and considering collaborators' comments on the progress of open trials and their ideas for the future (see Box 12.3). They therefore fulfill an invaluable role in helping to frame clinically relevant hypotheses for new trials and in assessing the level of interest new ideas are likely to attract. They also help to give collaborators a sense of corporate identity.

Each meeting has a number of typical agenda items. It is useful to include the agenda and a summary of background information and data to be discussed in a brochure which those attending can take away with them and which can be sent to those unable to attend. A brochure is helpful in keeping collaborators fully informed and enabling them subsequently to discuss the research programme and the meeting with their colleagues. Not all the agenda items will need to be discussed in detail at the meeting: some of them can more appropriately be dealt with mainly through the brochure and briefly discussed at the meeting. For example, presentations made to scientific meetings and full publications since the previous meeting can be listed in the brochure and their abstracts reproduced, collaborators being invited to raise questions or make comments if they wish. This approach enables maximum time to be spent on items that require full discussion.

The progress of the current research programme is summarized and recent results presented, attention being drawn to any matters of particular interest or importance. In presenting the progress of trials still open to patient intake (see also Section 8.6.2), recruitment should be shown, centre by centre, in the brochure to enable discussion. It is important to say what is going well but also to air any problems. The experiences of different centres will vary and centres can often usefully share experiences with each other. If the intake to a trial is going well and any problems are being dealt with efficiently, then clinicians not yet participating are more likely to decide to do so.

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