Giving Compass' Take:

· Diane Mapes discusses a study explaining that loosening up strict comorbidity criteria would dramatically increase participation in cancer clinical trials.

· Would the trade-off of loosening restrictions be worthwhile? How can funders help to make this shift?  

· Read a guide to funding cancer research

How do you make cancer clinical trials available to more patients?

A new study published today in JAMA Oncology and led by Dr. Joseph Unger at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center offers a tantalizing solution: loosen up the strict eligibility criteria.

Low clinical trial participation is a problem that’s plagued cancer researchers for decades, with most estimates putting adult cancer patient involvement at less than 5 percent. In many cases, the patients’ clinical status — that is, their various medical conditions — exclude them from even being considered for a trial.

Unger, a health services researcher and biostatistician with Fred Hutch, is a leading member of the SWOG Cancer Research Network, a National Cancer Institute-funded group that led the study. Unger and his SWOG team collaborated with representatives from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, to drill down into one set of eligibility criteria: comorbidities, that is, having one or more chronic diseases — such as diabetes or hypertension — in addition to cancer.

Read the full article about boosting cancer clinical trial participation by Diane Mapes at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.