21 July 2015

Cancer trials need to include more seniors

The American Society of Clinical Oncology has urged the U.S. government and the cancer research community to broaden clinical trials to include older adults.


Clinical trials of cancer treatments need to include more elderly people, a leading group of cancer specialists says.

Different experiences and outcomes

In a position statement, the American Society of Clinical Oncology called on the U.S. government and the cancer research community to broaden clinical trials to include older adults.

"Older people living with cancer often have different experiences and outcomes in their treatment than younger cancer patients," Dr Julie Vose, society president, said in a news release from the group.

"As we age, for example, the risk of adverse reactions from treatment significantly increases. Older adults must be involved in clinical trials so we can learn the best way to treat older cancer patients resulting in improved outcomes and manageable toxicity," she explained.

Read: Breakthrough in cancer treatment: immunotherapy promises turnaround in cancer cure rates

More than 60 percent of cancers in the United States occur in people aged 65 and older, the statement authors say, noting the number of seniors will increase in coming years. However, there is a lack of evidence about cancer treatments for the elderly because too few are included in clinical trials, and clinical trials designed specifically for seniors are rare.

These trials need to mirror the age distribution and health-risk profile of patients with cancer, statement co-author Dr. Arti Hurria, director of City of Hope's Cancer and Ageing Research Programme, said in the news release.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology "has laid out a multi-pronged approach to expand the participation of older adults in clinical trials, ensuring that all patients will receive high-quality, evidence-based cancer care," Hurria added.

The position statement was also published July 20 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Image: Senior patient from Shutterstock

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