Participants in phase 1 oncology research trials - Are they vulnerable?
ABSTRACT Phase 1 oncology trials involve risk and offer a relatively low prospect of benefit to participants. Some claim that participants constitute a vulnerable population requiring special protections. We undertook this study to determine whether phase 1 oncology trial participants have demographic and health status characteristics of a vulnerable population. We reviewed participant demographic and health status data from phase 1 trials sponsored by the Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program at the National Cancer Institute that began between 1991 and 2002 and from 11 previously published studies. Main outcome measures were median age, sex, race/ethnicity, performance status, previous therapy, educational achievement level, and health insurance coverage. Almost 10 000 participants in trials sponsored by the Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program had a median age of 57 years, 90% self-identified as white, 93% had near-normal performance status, 85% had some form of health insurance, and 92% had been previously treated for cancer; 20 000 individuals from published studies had comparable profiles. The demographic and health status characteristics of phase 1 oncology trial participants are not those of a conventional vulnerable population and suggest little reason to assume that, as a group, they have a compromised ability to understand information or to make informed and voluntary decisions.
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ABSTRACT: Several prognostic indices have been devised to optimize patient selection for phase 1 oncology trials with no consensus as to the optimal score and none qualifying as a marker of treatment response. Multivariate predictors of overall survival (OS) were tested on 118 referred patients to develop the Hammersmith Score (HS). The score's ability to predict OS, progression-free survival (PFS), and 90-day mortality (90DM) was compared with other prognostic indices. Changes in HS were recalculated during treatment. Albumin < 35 g/L, lactate dehydrogenase > 450 U/L, and sodium < 135 mmol/L emerged as independent prognostic factors. These were used with equal weighting to devise the HS, a compound prognostic index ranging from 0 to 3. High (HS = 2-3) score predicted worse OS (hazard ratio [HR] = 6.5, P < .001), PFS (HR = 2.8, P = .01), and 90DM (OR = 9.0, P < .001). HS was a more accurate multivariate predictor of OS (HR = 6.4, P < .001, C-index = 0.72), PFS (HR = 2.7, P = .03), and 90DM (area under the ROC curve 0.703) compared with other scores. Worsening of the HS during treatment predicted for shorter OS (P < .001). HS retained prognostic and predictive ability following external validation. HS is a simple, validated index to optimize patient selection and predict survival benefit from phase 1 oncology treatments. Prospective validation is ongoing. Cancer 2014;120:262-270. © 2013 American Cancer Society.Cancer 01/2014; 120(2):262-70. DOI:10.1002/cncr.28381 · 4.90 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Next generation sequencing technology is increasingly utilized in oncology with the goal of targeting therapeutics to improve response and reduce side effects. Interpretation of tumor mutations requires sequencing of paired germline DNA, raising questions about incidental germline findings. We describe our experiences as part of a research team implementing a protocol for whole genome sequencing (WGS) of tumors and paired germline DNA known as the Michigan Oncology Sequencing project (MI-ONCOSEQ) that includes options for receiving incidental germline findings. Genetic counselors (GCs) discuss options for return of results with patients during the informed consent process and document family histories. GCs also review germline findings and actively participate in the multi-disciplinary Precision Medicine Tumor Board (PMTB), providing clinical context for interpretation of germline results and making recommendations about disclosure of germline findings. GCs have encountered ethical and counseling challenges with participants, described here. Although GCs have not been traditionally involved in molecular testing of tumors, our experiences with MI-ONCOSEQ demonstrate that GCs have important applicable skills to contribute to multi-disciplinary care teams implementing precision oncology. Broader use of WGS in oncology treatment decision making and American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) recommendations for active interrogation of germline tissue in tumor-normal dyads suggests that GCs will have future opportunities in this area outside of research settings.Journal of Genetic Counseling 03/2014; 23(4). DOI:10.1007/s10897-014-9698-3 · 1.75 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT This article attempts to answer the following normative questions: Can one consider the design of Phase 1 trials ethically appropriate due to the unfavorable ratio of risks and benefits? What are some ethical safeguards for Phase 1 oncology research? A comparative review of literature contributed to the consolidation of the proposed ethical framework for Phase 1 oncology trials. This framework gives a special attention to issues of therapeutic misconception and vulnerability. The benefits and dangers associated with the enrollment in trials are described as well as the absence of alternatives, treatment-specific optimism, and vagueness in factual presentation during the informed consent process. The notion of therapeutic misconception is contrasted with optimism despite realism that stems from psychological, cultural, and religious factors and not necessarily from the lack of information. Close attention is given to the possible ways in which the inherent uncertainty and resulting cognitive biases may affect the informed consent process and the definition of therapeutic misconception. The article ends with recommendations for an ethical way of enrolling palliative patients in early stages of oncology research, giving special attention to provision of adequate consent, protection of vulnerability, and avoidance of therapeutic misconception.Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy 05/2014; DOI:10.3109/15360288.2014.908994