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Challenges in translating end points from trials to observational cohort studies in oncology

Authors Ording A, Cronin-Fenton D, Ehrenstein V, Lash T, Acquavella J, Rørth M, Sørensen HT

Received 8 October 2015

Accepted for publication 29 February 2016

Published 11 June 2016 Volume 2016:8 Pages 195—200


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Lars Pedersen

Anne Gulbech Ording,1 Deirdre Cronin-Fenton,1 Vera Ehrenstein,1 Timothy L Lash,1,2 John Acquavella,1 Mikael Rørth,1 Henrik Toft Sørensen1

1Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark; 2Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA

Abstract: Clinical trials are considered the gold standard for examining drug efficacy and for approval of new drugs. Medical databases and population surveillance registries are valuable resources for post-approval observational research, which are increasingly used in studies of benefits and risk of new cancer drugs. Here, we address the challenges in translating endpoints from oncology trials to observational studies. Registry-based cohort studies can investigate real-world safety issues – including previously unrecognized concerns – by examining rare endpoints or multiple endpoints at once. In contrast to clinical trials, observational cohort studies typically do not exclude real-world patients from clinical practice, such as old and frail patients with comorbidity. The observational cohort study complements the clinical trial by examining the effectiveness of interventions applied in clinical practice and by providing evidence on long-term clinical outcomes, which are often not feasible to study in a clinical trial. Various endpoints can be included in clinical trials, such as hard endpoints, soft endpoints, surrogate endpoints, and patient-reported endpoints. Each endpoint has it strengths and limitations for use in research studies. Endpoints used in oncology trials are often not applicable in observational cohort studies which are limited by the setting of standard clinical practice and by non-standardized endpoint determination. Observational studies can be more helpful moving research forward if they restrict focus to appropriate and valid endpoints.

Keywords: endpoint determination, medical oncology, treatment outcome, neoplasms, research design

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