Review on Early Technology Assessments of Nanotechnologies in Oncology

Valesca P. Retèl, Marjan J.M. Hummel, Wim H. van Harten

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Nanotechnology is expected to play an increasingly important role in the diagnostics, prognostics, and management of targeted cancer treatments. While papers have described promising results for nanotechnology in experimental settings, the translation of fundamental research into clinical applications has yet to be widely adopted. In future, policy makers will need to anticipate new developments for clinical implementation and introduce technology assessments. Here we present an overview of the literature on the technology assessments that have already been undertaken on early stage nanotechnology in cancer care, with particular emphasis placed on clinical efficacy, efficiency, logistics, patient-related features and technology dynamics. Owing to the current stage of development of most nanotechnologies, we found only a limited number of publications describing the application of either Health Technology Assessment (HTA) or Constructive Technology Assessment (CTA). In spite of the promising conclusions of most papers concerning the benefits of clinical implementation, actual clinically relevant applications were rarely encountered, and so far only a few publications report application of systematic forms of technology assessment. Most articles consider aspects of environmental safety, regulation and ethics, often mentioning the need to investigate such issues more thoroughly. Evaluation of financial and organizational aspects is often missing. In order to obtain a realistic perspective on the translation and implementation process there is a need for a broad and systematic evaluation of nanotechnologies at early stages of development. Assessment methods taking technology dynamics into account, such as Constructive Technology Assessment (CTA) should be considered for evaluation purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-401
JournalMolecular oncology
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Nanotechnology
  • Genomics
  • Review
  • Early Technology Assessment
  • Oncology
  • Dynamics


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