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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | Personals | Yellow Pages  March 13, 2004
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Do Clinical Trials Improve Treatment?
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(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Some oncologists say cancer patients who enroll in clinical trials experience better treatment results than patients who do not participate, despite clinical trials being conducted to test experimental treatments for the benefit of future patients. This is a benefit known as a "trial effect." However, researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston say that may not be true.

In the latest issue of The Lancet, investigators report their findings on 26 published cancer studies comparing outcomes among trial participants and non-trial patients. They report finding little convincing evidence that such a trial effect exists. Fourteen studies showed some evidence that trial participants had better outcomes, but only nine of the trials were designed to compare the outcomes of the participants with those non-participants who would have been eligible for the trials. Of these, three studies suggested better outcomes among trial participants than among non-participants. No studies showed participants had worse outcomes than non-participants. The investigators caution more research is needed to determine whether there is a predictable benefit from trial participation.

"Clinical trials are critical to the advancement of cancer care, but it is important that people who enroll in a study understand that their participation is intended primarily to benefit future patients," says Jeffrey M. Peppercorn, M.D., M.P.H. Fewer than 5 percent of adults with cancer are enrolled into clinical trials.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.

SOURCE: The Lancet, 2004;363:263-270

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