Minority of Physicians Consider Clinical Trials Early in Treatment Course

HealthDay News – The majority of physicians polled stated they only considered clinical trials late in patient treatment, according to a study commissioned by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City.

The study included 1,511 adults, 18 and 69 years old. More than half (55%) of those surveyed were worried about side effects and safety. Half were concerned about insurance coverage and out-of-pocket costs. Nearly half (48%) were concerned about the inconvenience of trial locations, or receiving a placebo instead of an active treatment drug (46%). 

Additionally, 35% of those surveyed expressed skepticism about unproven treatments, while 34% said a clinical trial would make them feel like a guinea pig. After reading information about clinical trials, the number of respondents with a positive impression of these trials rose from 40% to 60%.

The review also included a survey of 594 doctors who have discussed clinical trials with patients. Many clinical trials are available to patients in the earliest phases of treatment, but 56% of doctors said they considered clinical trials for patients only late in treatment. Twenty-eight percent said they considered clinical trials “a treatment of last resort.” Only 32% of the doctors said they discuss clinical trials with their patients at the beginning of treatment.

“Failing to consider clinical trials at every stage of cancer diagnosis and treatment can represent a significant missed opportunity, primarily for patients, as well as for doctors and researchers trying to develop better therapies,” Paul Sabbatini, M.D., deputy physician-in-chief for clinical research at MSKCC, said in a center news release. “It’s critical that we spread the word: Clinical trials offer our best thinking toward finding better ways to prevent, treat, and cure cancer, and there are options for patients and their families to consider early on in treatment.”

“When it comes to advancing cancer care, clinical research is the rocket fuel for better treatments, more accurate diagnoses, and, ultimately, cures,” said José Baselga, MD, PhD, Physician-in-Chief and Chief Medical Officer at MSKCC.  “If this trend of low enrollment continues, we will face a crisis in cancer research and discovery. Further education is the key to participation and progress.”

MaPS / Millward Brown Analytics conducted a national survey on behalf of MSK among 1,511 consumers, ages 18 to 69, and 594 practicing physicians who have discussed clinical trials with patients, specializing in oncology/hematology, OB / GYN, gastroenterology, urology, ear / nose / throat medicine, neurology, pulmonology, or dermatology. The survey was conducted between October 23, 2015, and November 12, 2015.

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Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Press Relesse. Despite Pressing Need, Survey Finds Most Americans Unlikely to Enroll in Clinical Trials.  Published online May 23, 2016. Accessed May 26, 2016. Source code.