, Volume 20, Issue 12, pp 3725-3731

Clinical Research in Surgical Oncology: An Analysis of ClinicalTrials.gov

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Abstract

Background

The objective of this study was to provide a descriptive analysis of registered clinical trials in surgical oncology at ClinicalTrials.gov.

Methods

Data was extracted from ClinicalTrials.gov using the following search engine criteria: “Cancer” as Condition, “Surgery OR Operation OR Resection” as Intervention, and Non-Industry sponsored. The search was limited to Canada and the United States and included trials registered from January 1, 2001 to January 1, 2011.

Results

Of 9,961 oncology trials, 1,049 (10.5 %) included any type of surgical intervention. Of these trials, 125 (11.9 %, 1.3 % of all oncology trials) assessed a surgical variable, 773 (73.7 %) assessed adjuvant/neoadjuvant therapies, and 151 (14.4 %) were observational studies. Of the trials assessing adjuvant therapies, systemic treatment (362 trials, 46.8 %) and multimodal therapy (129 trials, 16.7 %) comprised a large focus. Of the 125 trials where surgery was the intervention, 59 trials (47.2 %) focused on surgical techniques or devices, 45 trials (36.0 %) studied invasive diagnostic methods, and 21 trials (16.8 %) evaluated surgery versus no surgery. The majority of the 125 trials were nonrandomized (72, 57.6 %).

Conclusions

The number of registered surgical oncology trials is small in comparison to oncology trials as a whole. Clinical trials specifically designed to assess surgical interventions are vastly outnumbered by trials focusing on adjuvant therapies. Randomized surgical oncology trials account for <1 % of all registered cancer trials. Barriers to the design and implementation of randomized trials in surgical oncology need to be clarified in order to facilitate higher-level evidence in surgical decision-making.