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Medical News & Perspectives
March 23 2011

Patients’ Unrealistic Hopes for Cancer Trial Benefits May Hinder Consent

JAMA. 2011;305(12):1186-1187. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.317

Many patients with late-stage cancers who enroll in early-phase clinical trials harbor unrealistic optimism about the potential benefits of participation, according to a recent study.

Phase 1 and phase 2 trials of therapies for cancers help provide necessary preliminary safety and effectiveness data, but they may offer limited therapeutic benefits to the patients enrolled in them. It is particularly important to ensure that patients with advanced cancers who have exhausted most other treatment options fully understand the purpose of phase 1 and phase 2 trials and that they may personally not benefit. However, some concerns have been raised about whether many participants have a complete understanding of the purpose of such studies or whether patients who participate hold unrealistic hopes that the intervention under study might help them.

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