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The Cancer Letter: Study Incorporates Patient Feedback into Better Cancer Treatments

The Cancer Letter, an independent weekly newsletter providing information on development of cancer therapies and cancer research funding, recently interviewed André Rogatko, PhD, director of the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Research Center at Cedars-Sinai Cancer, about a new study aiming to better incorporate patient feedback into clinical trials. The study’s goal is to help determine which new cancer treatments will be approved for use.

The project, supported by a five-year, $3.4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), involves statisticians, clinicians and patient advocates. Rogatko is co-leading the study along with Patricia Ganz, professor of Medicine in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

The collective team is analyzing data from previous and ongoing clinical trials to design new statistical measurement criteria for assessing how well trial participants tolerate experimental therapies.

“There is a pressing need to include the patient’s voice in the evaluation of the toxicity and tolerability of new cancer treatments,” Rogatko told The Cancer Letter. “As a consequence of our work, we expect that the future reporting of results from cancer treatment trials can include better evaluations.”

New experimental cancer treatments are raising hopes among clinicians and patients for longer survival times and cures. But clinical trials that test such treatments also need to analyze the impact on patients of potentially harsh side effects, known as adverse events, Rogatko said. These side effects may include pain, fatigue, nausea, heart palpitations, skin reactions, mood changes, memory impairment and sexual dysfunction, among others.

“A big unknown is how adverse events affect patients over longer periods of time, particularly in immunotherapy, in which we only recently are learning about long-term toxicity and how it affects quality of life,” Rogatko said.

Click here to read the complete article in The Cancer Letter. 

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