Lung cancer clinical trial elig criteria & requirements increased in number and complexity

DENVER -Eligibility criteria continue to increase in number and complexity for lung cancer clinical trials.

Cancer clinical trials have complex requirements for design, study, and eligibility criteria that often act as a barrier to the development of new clinical trials as well as patient enrollment. With the advent of molecular targeted therapies and immunotherapy, requirement criteria have continued to increase in number and complexity. Despite calls to streamline cancer clinical trial processes and efforts to improve cancer clinical trial patient accrual, completion rates and generalizability, fewer than two percent of adults with cancer in the United States participate in clinical trials.

A group of investigators in the United States conducted a retrospective study to evaluate contemporary trends in cancer clinical trial inclusiveness and complexity. The group quantified and categorized eligibility criteria in lung cancer clinical trials sponsored or endorsed by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) Thoracic Committee from 1986 through 2016. Associations between clinical trial characteristics and eligibility criteria were analyzed by nonparametric statistical methods, such as the Wilcoxon two-sample test and the Kruskal-Wallis test.

The results of the study were published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, the official journal of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) . A total of 74 lung cancer clinical trials sponsored or endorsed by the ECOG Thoracic Committee with full study protocols were identified. Medical therapy trials (targeted therapy and immunotherapy) had an increase in eligibility criteria over time from 17 in 1986-1995 to 28 in 2006-2016 (p

The authors comment that, "Medical therapy lung cancer clinical trials are becoming more complex, with growing numbers of eligibility criteria and screening procedures. While this trend may hypothetically increase the scientific yield or safety of a protocol, it also potentially hinders patient accrual, decreases study completion rates, limits generalizability and increases costs. The increase in eligibility criteria appears to reflect the general practice of adding new criteria relevant to contemporary treatments such as immunotherapy and molecularly targeted therapies, without revisiting and removing criteria not pertinent to these interventions. With federal funding for cancer clinical trials decreasing and a substantial proportion of NCI-sponsored cancer clinical trials not completing accrual, ongoing efforts to simplify eligibility and procedures will be critical moving forward. Tailoring inclusion and exclusion criteria to match the intervention under study represents a key step in this process."


Co-authors Suresh Ramalingam, Joan Schiller, David Johnson and David Gerber are members of IASLC.

About the IASLC

The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) is the only global organization dedicated solely to the study of lung cancer and other thoracic malignancies. Founded in 1974, the association's membership includes more than 6,500 lung cancer specialists across all disciplines in over 100 countries, forming a global network working together to conquer lung and thoracic cancers worldwide. The association also publishes the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, the primary educational and informational publication for topics relevant to the prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of all thoracic malignancies. Visit for more information.

Media Contact: Becky Bunn, 720-325-2946; [email protected]

Media Contact

Becky Bunn
[email protected]


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