Cancer Clinical Trials May Benefit Patients Who Typically Don't Qualify

Many patients with cancer do not qualify for clinical trials because of comorbidities or other health problems. However, a recent study found that many of these patients can actually benefit from trials.
Clinical trials are imperative in helping find treatments for patients with cancer. However, many patients with poor prognoses or other comorbidities often get turned away from participating because they are deemed “too sick” according to eligibility criteria, such as having existing medical illnesses. These patients who are being turned away are the people who could potentially benefit the most from trials.
A recent novel study at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center showed patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) responded well and were safely treated in a clinical trial setting, though they would not typically qualify.
According to Guillermo Garcia-Manero, M.D., Professor of Leukemia at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, who led the study, the most common reasons why patients are excluded from clinical trials are their poor kidney function, poor liver function, malignancy and life expectancy. However, in Garcia-Manero’s opinion, there is often no clinical reason for patients with these comorbidities to be excluded.
“Clinical trials are meant to protect the patient,” Garcia-Manero said. “However, the eligibility criteria in place protects the study rather than the patient.”
The study followed 109 patients with AML and MDS who were at least 17 years old and had not previously received treatment for AML or MDS. All participants had poor performance, poor renal or hepatic function or any other active systemic disorder such as cancer.

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