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Most Cancer Treatment Studies Aren't Published, Study Finds
Date:9/15/2008

many unpublished studies contain important information that could influence future research and present practice policy."

There are several reasons why registered trials may not be published. Some trials may fail to meet recruitment or follow-up goals. If the trial is completed and the results are negative, researchers may feel that negative studies do little to advance scientific understanding, or to enhance their professional reputation. Sponsors may not encourage researchers to publish negative results. For their part, medical journal editors may be less enthusiastic about negative studies.

However, publication of negative studies is important for several reasons -- not only to avoid repeating negative trials, but also for what can be learned from the lack of response. "Unpublished trials may have special importance in oncology, due to the toxicity and/or expense of many therapies," the researchers add. The fact that so much cancer research goes unpublished raises concerns about the completeness of available information on present and future cancer treatments.

A pair of accompanying editorials comment on the underpublication of cancer treatment studies, and suggest some approaches to addressing the problem. Dr. James H. Doroshow of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) reports on efforts to develop a database of administrative and outcomes data for all studies performed at NCI-supported institutions.

Drs. Gregory A. Curt and Bruce A. Chabner, Senior Editor and Editor-in-Chief of "The Oncologist," echo the call for increased NCI involvement in ensuring publication of funded studies. Meanwhile, the editors of "The Oncologist" are considering publication of a new, peer-reviewed, fully searchable venue for cancer treatment studies that would otherwise go unpublished. "There is a need for a new venue for publishing all well-executed trials that fail to meet positive endpoints: 'negative' in a sense, but valuable nonetheless," Dr. Curt commen
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SOURCE AlphaMed Press
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