Nearly half of doctors did not discuss trials with cancer patients – survey

Almost half of cancer patients reported that their medical care team did not discuss clinical trials with them, and often discouraged participation when the subject was discussed, according to a survey.

The first ever Patient Power Cancer Clinical Trials survey shows the majority of patients are interested in taking part in clinical trials – good news for drug developers and governments looking to enrol them.

Patients who participated in studies, some of them in more than one, found them to be of clinical benefit and well worth the effort, the study also found.

Results were based on a survey of 666 patients with cancer conducted between mid-December and January, which showed that 50% of respondents were “very likely” to participate in a clinical trial and 26% were “possibly likely” to take part.

In addition, 58% of patients had already considered participating in trials, and 44% actually did.

57% of respondents who “were likely” or “possibly likely” to participate in a trial reported that their medical team had discussed it at some point during their care. The majority of those (65%) who did participate in at least one trial reported that it was not financially burdensome, and 85% believe they gained a clinical benefit.

However, 43% of all patients surveyed reported that clinical trials were never discussed with them as an option by their medical teams.

Free text answers also revealed some of the medical teams had discouraged participating for a range of reasons.

Reasons included patients responding to the therapies they were taking, lack of available clinical trials in the area, and pre-existing medical conditions.

In some cases medics suggested delaying trial participation in patients who had stable disease, according to the survey.

Andrew Schorr, co-founder and president of Patient Power, said: “In this age of chronic cancer and an explosion of clinical trials, many of them addressing different cancer stages, from treatment-naïve to late-stage, it has never been more important for patients to ask about clinical trial options, and for medical staff to bring them up in treatment conversations, even if there isn’t a trial locally.

“While there is a high level of interest among information-seeking patients to learn about clinical trials, this survey showed there is also a bottleneck at the treating physician level. Medical professionals are a patient’s first contact.

“Many are doing a great job, but there’s still room for improvement if we want to accelerate trial enrolment, give patients all of their options, and have hope of faster cures.”


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