Cohortias – How to Plan for a Successful Oncology Clinical Trial.

Cancer researchers are constantly creating new clinical trials to help find ways to improve cancer treatment, care, and prevention.

The Need for Oncology Clinical Trials

According to the American Cancer Society nearly half of the American male population (40.14%) will contract some type of invasive cancer in their lifetime. What’s more, 1 in 5 (21.34%) will die from cancer. The statistics for the American female population aren’t much better, with 38.70% likely to contract an invasive form of cancer, and 1 in 5 (18.33%) likely to die.

These sobering numbers help highlight what’s at stake in the fight against cancer and how crucial oncology studies are in this battle.

What is Oncology?

Oncology is “the branch of medicine that deals with the study and treatment of cancer.” If you search, a registry of federally and privately supported clinical trials conducted both in the U.S. and around the globe, there are currently 39,506 different studies for Neoplasm, Cancer, and Tumor listed.

The Challenges and Costs of Oncology Studies

In 2015, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) published research on industry-sponsored clinical trials, including oncology studies. They found that “oncology accounted for both the largest number of clinical trials (2,560 trials, or more than 40% of industry-sponsored trials), and the largest number of trial participants (215,176, or nearly 19% of participants).”


Additionally, oncology trials showed the highest average per-patient cost, with an average per-patient cost of $59,500. This is due in part to the fact that oncology trials typically require fewer participants than other types of clinical trials, meaning any fixed costs are spread out over a smaller number of participants. And back in 2006, developing and marketing a new cancer drug was estimated to be around $1 billion.

It has been repeatedly estimated that less than 5% of adult cancer patients even enroll in oncology clinical trials. However, an estimated 70% of Americans are eager and willing to participate in clinical trials. The paper, Role of Clinical Trial Participation in Cancer Research: Barriers, Evidence, and Strategiestheorizes that structural (e.g. access to cancer clinics, insurance), clinical (e.g. eligibility to participate), and attitudinal barriers (both via physicians and patients) create the large gap between trial participant rates and the willingness of patients to participate in such trials.

Overall, the success of oncology clinical trials greatly depends on the level of engagement of its participants, oncologists, clinical staff, and patients from the very beginning. However, continuous barriers and roadblocks, such as the ones briefly described above, create both logistically and psychologically difficult scenarios that often discourage otherwise willing participants.


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