Frequently asked questions

1. Why does the CGNOC deal with non-gynaecological (orphan) cancer reviews?

There are some review topics that do not fall within the scope of a single Cochrane Gynaecological, Neuro-oncology and Orphan Cancer Group, for example, infections which occur in patients receiving treatment for cancer. Because of the co-ordinating editor's involvement with the Cochrane Cancer Network, the Group was asked to take on the publishing of 'orphan' cancer reviews. There are two other categories of reviews which may be classed as 'orphans'. These are:

a) Topics specific to a single type of cancer for which there is no separate Cochrane group, eg. neurological cancer.

b) Topics specific to a type of cancer which is too rare to make the setting up and maintenance of a separate group uneconomical.

2) I have already published my protocol but in the course of carrying out the review I feel there is another outcome which I should address. Do I have to stick to exactly what I stated in the protocol?

If in the course of carrying out your review you find an important outcome has been addressed which had been overlooked in your protocol, then it is important that you include this outcome. However, you should state in your review that this outcome was added 'post-protocol'.

3) What should I do if I have stated an outcome in my protocol, but found no evidence relating to it in the papers?

You should not remove this outcome from your review, but instead make a statement that in the course of your review you found no evidence of it being addressed in the trials you found. You may then consider it appropriate to discuss this under the section "Implications for Research".

4) I have carried out my searches and found no RCTs. Should I abandon the review or carry on using data from non-randomized studies?

You should certainly not abandon the review. If you find no RCTs, you will not be able to carry out a meta-analysis, but presentation of the best evidence available, with a discussion of its limitations is valid. It is worth remembering that there are some areas of gynaecological cancer for which there are unlikely ever to be any RCTs of sufficient size to provide meaningful answers, or for which there have been no trials because current widespread practice is based on well publicised, but poor research. In the latter case the reviewer has a duty to draw attention to this and suggest that a large RCT is carried out.

5) What's the difference between a contact reviewer and a lead reviewer?

The lead reviewer is the same as the lead author of any study, usually the initiator of the study. The contact reviewer is the person who liaises with the managing editor (ME) during the editorial process and who takes responsibility for ensuring that all the reviewers are kept informed. In Cochrane the lead reviewer and contact reviewer are usually the same person but this is not always the case.

6) How do I register a title?

Before you register a title, you should look on the Cochrane titles to check that the topic has not already been covered/registered. You may view all the titles, protocols and reviews of the group by clicking on "view titles" and scrolling down to the Gynaecological Cochrane Gynaecological, Neuro-oncology and Orphan Cancer Group. You will not need a password to log in - this facility is only available to ME of groups to add and edit the information. Once you are satisfied that the topic you are interested in is not already being addressed you should complete a title registration form and submit it to the ME. He/she will then do the following:

Check that the topic is indeed within the scope of the CG, and does not overlap with another Group's scope
Ensure the title conforms to Cochrane guidelines and carry out a search of the Cochrane Library for reviews on the same topic. Inform the editors of the Group, giving them a week to comment on the proposal.
If the editors have no objections he/she will register the title on the Cochrane website. At this point, other Cochrane entities are sent an automatic email, enabling them to offer referees, consumer help etc…..
After two weeks, provided no problems have arisen, the ME will inform the reviewer that he/she may continue and a RevMan file containing the review number will be provided.