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Cancer Drug Trials Often Halted Early
Date:4/11/2008

It can take several years for the long-term benefits or harmful side effects of a new treatment to become apparent, Apolone noted, but the average duration of the 25 studies he and his colleagues analyzed was 30 months, with a range from 12 to 64 months.

They also found that at the time five of the studies were stopped, they'd enrolled less than 40 percent of the total number of patients planned for final analysis.

The findings were published online April 9 in the Annals of Oncology.

"Clinical trails need to stop early for superior benefit whenever there's proof beyond reasonable doubt that the new treatment really is superior. That would be an ethical obligation," Stuart Pocock, a professor of medical statistics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom, said at the news conference. "However, too many trials are stopped early claiming efficacy without strong evidence being available."

Pocock wasn't involved in the study.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about clinical trials.



-- Robert Preidt



SOURCE: European Society for Medical Oncology, news release, April 8, 2008


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