Concern at lack of teenage patients in cancer trials

June 30, 2014

Age limits on clinical trials need to be more flexible to allow more teenage cancer patients the chance to access new treatments, according to a report from the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI), published in the Lancet Oncology today.

The study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research and Teenage Cancer Trust, found that trials designed with broader age limits resulted in more teenagers and young adults going on .

The study showed this recommendation led to a 13 per cent rise in 15-19 year old cancer patients taking part in clinical trials between 2005 and 2010 (from 24 to 37 per cent), and a five per cent rise in 20-24 year olds (from 13 to 18 per cent). Children under 14 taking part in trials rose by six per cent (from 52 to 58 per cent)*.

This rise was due to the increase in availability and access to trials for young people, increased awareness from healthcare professionals, patients and the public about research and importantly the opening of trials with broader age limits which allow older teenagers and young adults to enter trials.

Study leader Dr Lorna Fern, who co-ordinates research for the NCRI Teenage and Young Adult Clinical Studies Group and is funded by Teenage Cancer Trust said: "We know that patients often do better on trials due to the specialist care they receive. But right now too many of our young patients are needlessly falling through the gap between paediatric and adult cancer trials.

"By encouraging doctors to take into account the full age range of patients affected by individual types of cancer, we've shown that it's possible to design trials that include teenage cancer patients and, importantly, that better match the underlying biology of the disease and the people affected."

In light of this study, Cancer Research UK is one of the first major cancer funders in the UK to start asking researchers to justify age restrictions on new studies, in an effort to recruit more teenage cancer patients onto its trials.

Kate Law, Cancer Research UK's director of clinical trials, said: "Old or young, it's vital that effective treatments are being developed to tackle cancer across all age brackets. We now only accept age limits on our clinical trials if they are backed up by hard evidence, which will hopefully mean more young cancer patients get the chance to contribute to research and have the latest experimental treatments."

Simon Fuller, director of services for Teenage Cancer Trust comments: "Too many young people miss out on clinical trials and we have been working with patients, politicians, the NCRI and other organisations to increase awareness of this lack of access. Changes are critical to improving the quality of life and chances of survival for young people with cancer aged 13 to 24. We need everyone involved in the commissioning and regulating of clinical trials to work together across the UK, Europe and internationally to help save 's lives. Next week we will be launching our own discussion paper at the 8th Teenage Cancer Trust International Conference on teenage and young adult cancer medicine."

Dr Karen Kennedy, director of the NCRI, said: "These findings show that we're gradually breaking down the barriers to allow more teenage and young adult patients to take part in cancer trials. If other cancer research funders adopt these recommendations then we have a great opportunity to help ensure more patients, both young and elderly, have access to treatments that could potentially benefit them."

Explore further: Teenage and young adult cancer deaths almost halved in last 30 years but success masks lack of access to clinical trials

More information: Fern L. et al. "Available, accessible, aware, appropriate and acceptable: a strategy to improve participation of teenagers and young adults in cancer trials," Lancet Oncology (2014). DOI: 10.1016/S1470-2045(14)70113-5

Related Stories

Teenage and young adult cancer deaths almost halved in last 30 years but success masks lack of access to clinical trials

March 25, 2013
The number of teenagers and young adults dying from cancer in Britain has fallen from around 580 per year in the mid-70s (1975-77) to around 300 today (2008-2010), according to a new Cancer Research UK report.

NCI, NCRI and EORTC outline risk-assessment approach for biomarker-driven cancer clinical trials

April 29, 2014
In an article published in The Lancet Oncology, an NCI (US National Cancer Institute), NCRI (UK National Cancer Research Institute), and EORTC (European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer) working group outline ...

Clinical trials to investigate prostate cancer treatment

April 28, 2014
The way prostate cancer is treated could have a radical re-think as two international clinical trials go ahead.

Cure for young acute myeloid leukaemia patients increases six-fold since 1970s

June 24, 2013
Almost half of teens and young adults with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) – a typically aggressive form of leukaemia – are cured thanks to improvements in treatment and care, according to research published in the British ...

Trial confirms promise of stratified lung cancer treatment

May 22, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Routine tests that look for multiple, specific genetic changes in patients' lung tumours could help doctors select targeted treatments, a US study has confirmed.

Over a third of cancer patients delay seeing the doctor about one of the most worrying cancer symptoms

June 11, 2014
Around 35 per cent of cancer patients waited too long to see their doctor about bleeding from their bottom - despite it being a cancer symptom, according to research published in the British Journal of Cancer today.

Recommended for you

Vitamin C may encourage blood cancer stem cells to die

August 17, 2017
Vitamin C may "tell" faulty stem cells in the bone marrow to mature and die normally, instead of multiplying to cause blood cancers. This is the finding of a study led by researchers from Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone ...

Scientists develop novel immunotherapy technology for prostate cancer

August 17, 2017
A study led by scientists at The Wistar Institute describes a novel immunotherapeutic strategy for the treatment of cancer based on the use of synthetic DNA to directly encode protective antibodies against a cancer specific ...

Outdoor light at night linked with increased breast cancer risk in women

August 17, 2017
Women who live in areas with higher levels of outdoor light at night may be at higher risk for breast cancer than those living in areas with lower levels, according to a large long-term study from Harvard T.H. Chan School ...

Scientists develop blood test that spots tumor-derived DNA in people with early-stage cancers

August 16, 2017
In a bid to detect cancers early and in a noninvasive way, scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center report they have developed a test that spots tiny amounts of cancer-specific DNA in blood and have used it to ...

Toxic formaldehyde is produced inside our own cells, scientists discover

August 16, 2017
New research has revealed that some of the toxin formaldehyde in our bodies does not come from our environment - it is a by-product of an essential reaction inside our own cells. This could provide new targets for developing ...

Cell cycle-blocking drugs can shrink tumors by enlisting immune system in attack on cancer

August 16, 2017
In the brief time that drugs known as CDK4/6 inhibitors have been approved for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, doctors have made a startling observation: in certain patients, the drugs—designed to halt cancer ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.