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Behind the Scenes of Clinical Trials

Study examines what influences cancer patient enrollments

TUESDAY, Oct. 21, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A cancer patient's race and the medical institution where he gets treated both influence the likelihood of the patient enrolling in a clinical trial

So says a study sponsored by the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

The study included 3,047 randomly selected patients with non-metastatic cancer receiving radiation treatment. Of these patients, 1,080 had breast cancer, 1,149 had prostate cancer and 818 had esophageal cancer.

Information was collected about the patients' age, gender, race, type of insurance and their participation in clinical trials. The researchers also noted the type of medical institution (academic or not) where the patients received their radiation therapy and found that 87 percent of the patients were treated at non-academic sites.

The study revealed that 9.4 percent of patients treated at an academic medical institution enrolled in clinical trials, compared to 1.7 percent of patients at non-academic institutions. It also found that more white patients (2.8 percent) than black patients (0.8 percent) enrolled in clinical trials.

The findings were presented Oct. 21 at the annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology in Salt Lake City.

"Our results suggest that increased communication and education regarding research protocols will be essential to enhance accrual," Dr. Benjamin Movsas, vice chairman of radiation oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center, says in a prepared statement.

"There will need to be a particular focus on physicians in non-academic settings and minority patients," Movsas says.

Other study findings included:

  • More patients with esophageal cancer (9.8 percent) than those with breast cancer (2.2 percent) or prostate cancer (1.98 percent) took part in trials.
  • Younger patients were more likely to enroll in trials -- 3.5 percent of patients younger than age 70 compared with 1.5 percent of those 70 or older.
  • Gender and type of insurance were not predictive of whether a patient would enroll in a trial.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about clinical trials.

SOURCE: Fox Chase Cancer Center, news release, Oct. 21, 2003
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