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Participation in Cancer Clinical Trials Lacking Among Teens

Enrollment declines rapidly after age 14; childhood survival rates high because of high participation

FRIDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- While the participation of children in clinical trials has substantially improved childhood cancer survival rates, enrollment in cancer treatment clinical trials is lacking among 13- to 24-year-olds, according to two articles published in the April issue of The Lancet Oncology.

Jeremy S. Whelan, M.D., and Lorna A. Fern, of University College Hospital in London, U.K., write that survival for cancer patients in the 13 to 24 age group has not kept pace with that of younger or older patients, and that a number of factors conspire to exclude them from clinical trials, such as inadequate trial design, lack of inclusion of all treatment centers in trials for rare cancers, and a lack of age-directed information about trials.

Kathy Pritchard-Jones, M.D., of the Institute of Cancer Research and Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in Surrey, U.K., and colleagues found that the 75 percent long-term survival rate among children newly diagnosed with cancer can be partly attributed to children's high participation in clinical trials.

"This high level of engagement of the childhood-cancer community relies on the so-called therapeutic alliance that begins between doctors and families when a child is diagnosed with cancer," Pritchard-Jones and colleagues write. "More research is needed to understand how to present most effectively the unfamiliar idea of a randomized clinical trial at a stressful time."

Full Text - Whelan (subscription or payment may be required)
Abstract - Pritchard-Jones
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