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Young people left out of clinical cancer trials


10 June, 2008  

Research presented to a conference on teenage and young adult cancer has said that organisers of clinical trials are failing young people with malignant disease.

Dr Lorna Fern, from University College Hospital, London, told Teenage Cancer Trust’s Fifth International Conference on Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Medicine that young people aged between 15 and 24 were particularly neglected, with an average of just 16.6% joining clinical trials between April 2005 and March 2008, compared to 44.1% of 5-14 year-olds who joined trials over the same period.

“Improvements in cancer treatments and outcomes for the older age group will continue to stagnate until this situation changes and more teenagers and young adults (TYAs) are recruited into clinical trials,” said Dr Fern, who is research and development co-ordinator for the National Cancer Research Institute’s Teenagers and Young Adult Clinical Studies Development Group.

Dr Fern analysed 23 trials of 4,429 patients aged 0-59 years recruited between April 2005 and March 2008 in England, Scotland and Wales.

Accrual rates fell considerably for patients aged 20-24 years in all three years.

Dr Fern said that these trends were set to continue as analysis of the 2007/08 data suggested that recruitment of 20-24 year olds has fallen to approximately 7.5%, compared to 39.7% of 10-14 year olds and 25.4% of 15-19 years.

Teenage Cancer Trust