The previous issue of The Sarcoma Journal focused on findings from numerous clinical trials in sarcomas of various histologies presented at ASCO’s annual meeting. This issue features a study on enrollment issues that surround clinical trials in sarcoma and sheds light on patient perceptions on clinical trial enrollment.
Clinical trials and their investigators are frequently impacted by enrollment issues, such as the limited number of eligible patients and the wide variations in time it can take to reach complete enrollment. For example, the phase 3 ANNOUNCE trial of olaratumab in soft tissue sarcoma completed its accrual of 509 patients in a record 10 months, while the trial of temozolomide by the European Pediatric Soft Tissue Sarcoma Study Group took 6 years to enroll 120 patients. Recruitment difficulties may even hamper the investigators’ and sponsors’ ability to bring a trial to a meaningful conclusion.
An interesting finding from the study published in this issue is the correlation between knowledge about trials and the positive attitude towards participating in them. People who had participated in clinical trials had higher levels of knowledge and developed more favorable attitudes towards clinical trials. One of the goals of the Sarcoma Foundation of America (curesarcoma.org) is to increase awareness of the numbers and types of ongoing clinical trials in sarcoma, benefitting patients and investigators alike. The SFA operates the Clinical Trial Navigating Service, which offers patients, caregivers, and health care professionals up-to-date information about sarcoma clinical trials throughout the United States and Canada. The service, provided in collaboration with EmergingMed, helps patients search for clinical trial options that match their specific diagnosis and treatment history.
The paper published in this issue suggests that, through patient education and careful trial design, sarcoma could become a paradigm for trial enrollment in other therapeutic areas. Together—as physicians, investigators, patients, trial sponsors, and anyone interested in curing sarcoma—we may be able to accomplish this. It’s certainly worth a try.
William D. Tap, MD