Cancer therapies assessment indicators need to be reviewed according to a novel study

The efficacy of new cancer therapies needs to be measured according to various parameters, but these have failed to be correctly chosen, a study reveals. A recent publication on JAMA Internal Medicine refutes any association between progression-free survival (PFS) and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in cancer patients. In other words, delaying cancer progression does not always result in an improved quality of life for the patients, both if they survive or not.

Kovic and cols. did an extensive review of 52 scientific articles that collected data from 38 randomized clinical cancer trials to study this correlation. In randomized clinical trials participants are divided arbitrarily into different groups to compare treatments or interventions. Among the chosen studies, some of them were evaluating a wide range of chemotherapy or biological therapies: oral, intravenous, intraperitoneal or intrapleural treatments. These included up to 12 cancer types. Scientists performed a thorough search for studies in databases like Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from 2000 to 2016. After an exhaustive statistical analysis, researchers found no significant association between PFS and HRQoL.

These new results suggest that PFS is not the most suitable outcome to assess the efficacy of new cancer drugs, or at least not a primary one. Therefore, to reach a more patient-centered approach for trial and drug design, scientists propose to measure HRQoL directly and accurately, ensuring adequate duration and follow-up of the clinical trial.


Link to the specific scientific publication:

Kovic B. et al. (2018) Evaluating Progression-Free Survival as a Surrogate Outcome for Health-Related Quality of Life in Oncology. JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.4710

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