How is best supportive care provided in clinical trials for patients with advanced cancer? A review of registered protocols of clinical trials
Background In 2012, 11 standards describing best supportive care (bsc) in clinical trials in advanced cancer were defined through consensus statements. The consensus included 15 key components. Our objective was to analyze whether clinical trials that involved patients with advanced cancer and that included bsc in at least 1 arm met the standards and contained the key components.
Methods We reviewed clinical trials registered in ClinicalTrials.gov, the isrctn (International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number) registry, the EU Clinical Trials Register, and the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform for 2012–2018. We selected only phase iii studies in patients with advanced cancer that included bsc in at least 1 arm. We describe the characteristics of the trials, together with the definition and components of bsc. We analyzed how the trials met the standards and adopted the key components of bsc.
Results Of 193 trials retrieved, only 64 met the inclusion criteria; 36 of those trials (56%) had no definition of bsc. Less than 7% of the trials included even 3 of the 8 bsc standards that were defined to be included in the design of trials. Furthermore, trials mentioned only 5 of the 15 key components that the consensus defined to be fundamental, with symptom management appearing in 22% of trials and the other 4 components appearing in less than 8%.
Summary Most clinical trials registered during 2012–2018 that involved patients with cancer and an arm with bsc did not define the bsc concept. Hence, the design of those trials does not meet the consensus recommendations.