Teenagers not included in enough cancer trials

In collaboration with the Press Association

A new study has highlighted the small number of teenagers who are enrolled in clinical trials in the UK.

British researchers analysed enrolment in phase III clinical trials from April 2005 to March 2007 involving teenagers and young adults (TYA) and children.

All of the young patients involved in trials had been diagnosed with leukaemia, lymphoma, brain and central nervous system, bone sarcomas or male germ cell tumours.

 

The researchers found that only 25.2 per cent of 15 to 19-year-olds and 13.1 per cent of 20 to 24-year-olds were enrolled in clinical trials, compared with 43.2 per cent of ten to 14-year-olds.

Rates increased among 10 to 14-year-olds and 15 to 19-year-olds during April 2006 to March 2007 compared with the previous 12 months, but fell among 20 to 24-year-olds.

The researchers noted that there were four trials available for patients with central nervous system tumours, yet no over-16s were enrolled in these trials.

They also observed that over-15s were much less likely to take part in clinical trials in England than children and younger teenagers.

Publishing their findings in the British Journal of Cancer, the researchers wrote: "Closer dialogue between those involved in planning and running trials for children and for adults is necessary to improve trial availability and recruitment."

Kate Law, Cancer Research UK's director of clinical trials, said: "This is an important study that highlights the significant role of clinical trials in improving survival for cancer. Before now, we didn't know how many young people with cancer were recruited onto clinical trials, and this research will be the base on which progress is measured.

"Cancer Research UK's new five-year strategy announced today aims to drive up survival rates. Highlighting poor recruitment of young people onto clinical trials and introducing measures to improve this will be a vital contribution to reaching our goal."

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