A small proportion of adult cancer patients participate in clinical trials in part due to a low level of physician referrals, according to an online study published Feb. 11 in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Although more than 8000 clinical trials are accepting participants, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), only an estimated 2%% of newly diagnosed cancer patients participate in them. Prior studies suggest that most eligible patients do not enroll in trials because their physicians do not refer them.
To understand what types of physicians are referring their patients to clinical cancer trials, Carrie N. Klabunde, Ph.D., of NCI, and colleagues, conducted a survey-based study of specialty physicians caring for colorectal and lung cancer patients. The researchers analyzed data from the Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance Consortium (CanCORS) for 1533 oncologists, radiation oncologists, and surgeons caring for colorectal and lung cancer patients. The physicians had completed a survey during 2005�.
The researchers found that 869 of the physicians, or 56.7%, responded that they had referred or enrolled at least one patient in clinical trials in the previous 12 months: 87.8% of medical oncologists, 66.1% of radiation oncologists, and 35% of surgeons. Two-thirds of the physicians affiliated with a Community Clinical Oncology Program or an NCI-designated cancer center reported participating in trials.
Furthermore, the researchers write, "Those more likely to participate in a clinical trial were medical or radiation oncologists (vs surgeons), were in larger practices, had academic appointments, saw a higher volume of lung or colorectal cancer patients, and attended weekly tumor board meetings."
The researchers also found that among the physicians who reported referring or enrolling at least one patient in cancer clinical trials in this period, the mean number of
|Contact: Kristine Crane|
Journal of the National Cancer Institute