Patient pool may be too small for oncology trials

With research into new cancer drugs booming, a recent study suggests that researchers may soon encounter a shortage of cancer patients for their clinical trials. The Geriatric Oncology Consortium counted 679 Phase I-III clinical trials planned in the U.S. for breast, lung and prostate cancer therapies. Those trials would need 238,000 cancer patients to participate, or 50 percent of everyone suffering from the diseases. Less than 10 percent of cancer patients are currently engaged in a clinical trial. The news isn't all bleak, however. About 40 percent of patients in a disease category are open to signing up when presented with the option. One problem that may be holding patients back is a perception that they may get a placebo. Cancer patients, however, typically receive either a standard, approved therapy or an experimental drug. The biggest roadblock of all, though, may be the resistance to trials from physicians. The vast majority of trial subjects are recruited by a doctor. But many specialists are put off by the work load associated with clinical trials and the perception that they're gaining only a small reimbursement for the extra work. Some patient advocates suggest creating a national panel that would be responsible for enlisting patients into these new trials.

- check out this article in HealthDay