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Enrollment in Cancer Treatment Trials Largely Unchanged by Pandemic

Last Updated: August 04, 2021.

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 4, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- During the COVID-19 pandemic, participation in cancer clinical treatment trials recovered, according to a study published online July 29 in JAMA Network Open.

Joseph M. Unger, Ph.D., from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues examined cancer clinical trial enrollment one year after the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic was characterized as having an initial wave (March 1 to April 25, 2020) and a winter 2020 to 2021 wave (Oct. 4, 2020, to Jan. 23, 2021).

The researchers found that 24,034 patients were enrolled before the pandemic and 5,364 during the pandemic. There was a 9.0 percent model-estimated weekly reduction in enrollments during the initial COVID-19 wave (relative risk, 0.91), with effects compounding each week. There was recovery in enrollment, which decreased again during the winter 2020 to 2021 wave, although by only 2.0 percent each week (relative risk, 0.98). Actual enrollments were 77.3 percent of expected enrollments overall; however, they varied by trial type: 54.0 percent of expected for cancer control and prevention trials and 91.0 percent for treatment trials.

"These findings suggest that clinical trial research rapidly adapted to the circumstances of enrolling and treating patients on protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic," the authors write.

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