A study has revealed serious gaps in cancer research, as several
cancers with a high burden of disease are not receiving the clinical trial
investment they require.
Dr Rachel Dear, a medical oncologist and PhD candidate at
the University of
Sydney, and coauthors
used data from The Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry to explore
the association between cancer clinical trial activity, burden of disease and
"Four of the five cancers that result in the greatest
burden of disease had relatively few clinical trials (lung, colorectal,
prostate and pancreatic cancers)," Dr Dear said.
"We found that the number of trials for each cancer
type did not always match the burden of disease caused by that cancer, thereby
identifying gaps in cancer trials research," Dr Dear said.
Of 386 interventional cancer trials open to recruitment in Australia,
breast cancer accounted for 62 trials. Yet only 24 trials were being conducted
on lung cancer, despite it being responsible for the greatest burden of
Dr Dear found that industry sponsorship is more likely for
randomised controlled trials that investigate systemic therapies (drugs or
biological agents) for patients with advanced cancers.
"Clinical trial registries are a largely untapped
resource to describe the clinical research landscape and guide future trial
activity," she said.
In an accompanying editorial, Professor Ian Olver of the
Cancer Council Australia, said the study reflected the international situation,
where investment in trials for specific cancer types does not correlate with
the disease burden caused by those cancers.
Data from clinical trial registries have many applications.
Clinicians and patients can search for trial options for specific conditions
when standard treatments have been exhausted, or where no effective treatment
exists, Professor Olver said.
"Data from clinical trial registries should be used to
monitor the progress of such efforts to ensure Australia has a robust clinical