Cancer trial participants may have misconceptions

By Andrew M. Seaman- Reuters NEW YORK | Thu Feb 9, 2012 6:38pm EST:

(Reuters Health) – People enrolled in early stage trials for possible cancer treatments may underestimate the risks involved and overestimate the potential benefits, suggests a new study.

The early trials, known as “Phase 1,” are often the first time a new drug is given to humans and the goal of the studies is to test for side effects and acceptable dosage levels. Participation rarely benefits the person’s health.

One of the new report’s authors says it’s well known that people taking part in early trials confuse the research for medical care, but it goes beyond that.

“What we found was that the picture of understanding is much more complicated than once thought,” said Rebecca Pentz, a research ethics professor at Emory University’s School of Medicine in Atlanta who led the study.

Pentz told Reuters Health in an email that when participants describe the risks and benefits of participating in the trial, they may use their descriptions to stay hopeful. She added that they also may not understand that participating in research comes with its own risks, including extra biopsies.

For their study, the researchers interviewed and surveyed 95 patients in a Phase 1 cancer trial. Read Full Article