Less Pediatric Cancer Patients Enrolling in Clinical, Study Shows

Less pediatric cancer patients are enrolling in clinical trials, according to the findings of a new study published in the journal PLoS ONE.

Childhood cancer is rare overall,” says the study’s first author, Kelly Faulk, MD, CU Cancer Center investigator and pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, “so historically high enrollment rates to clinical trials has been integral to improving outcomes for our patients.”

Researchers used Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database to estimate the overall number of pediatric cancer cases from 2004-2015, and then compared overall cancer numbers to the number of patients enrolled in clinical trials with the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), the largest pediatric oncology cooperative group.

According to the results, pediatric enrollment is down from 40-70% seen in studies completed in the 1990s, to 20-25% in the early 2000s, to 19.9% in the current study.  The researchers found no significant racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic disparities within pediatric trial enrollment.

“They can feel lost between pediatric and adult cancer care, and unfortunately these AYA patients represent a population that has failed to see the same improvements in outcomes that their younger counterparts have,” says Kelly Faulk, MD, CU Cancer Center investigator and pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado in a press release. “Given their age and other socioeconomic factors, they may not see doctors as often and commonly suffer from suboptimal health insurance coverage.”

 

“We feel this study is a useful evaluation of pediatric and AYA trial enrollment, representing important shifts in the way we design and test new treatments, and highlighting areas where we can continue to improve our use of clinical trials to give our patients the best possible options,” Faulk says.