Are clinical trial eligibility criteria an accurate reflection of a real-world population of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer patients?

Khalid Al-Baimani*, H. Jonker, T. Zhang, G. D. Goss, S. A. Laurie, G. Nicholas, P. Wheatley-Price

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Background Advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (nsclc) represents a major health issue globally. Systemic treatment decisions are informed by clinical trials, which, over years, have improved the survival of patients with advanced nsclc. The applicability of clinical trial results to the broad lung cancer population is unclear because strict eligibility criteria in trials generally select for optimal patients. Methods We performed a retrospective chart review of all consecutive patients with advanced nsclc seen in outpatient consultation at our academic institution between September 2009 and September 2012, collecting data about patient demographics and cancer characteristics, treatment, and survival from hospital and pharmacy records. Two sets of arbitrary trial eligibility criteria were applied to the cohort. Scenario A stipulated Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status (ecog ps) 0–1, no brain metastasis, creatinine less than 120 μmol/L, and no second malignancy. Less-strict scenario B stipulated ecog ps 0–2 and creatinine less than 120 μmol/L. We then used the two scenarios to analyze treatment and survival of patients by trial eligibility status. Results The 528 included patients had a median age of 67 years, with 55% being men and 58% having adenocarcinoma. Of those 528 patients, 291 received at least 1 line of palliative systemic therapy. Using the scenario A eligibility criteria, 73% were trial-ineligible. However, 46% of “ineligible” patients actually received therapy and experienced survival similar to that of the “eligible” treated patients (10.2 months vs. 11.6 months, p = 0.10). Using the scenario B criteria, only 35% were ineligible, but again, the survival of treated patients was similar in the ineligible and eligible groups (10.1 months vs. 10.9 months, p = 0.57). Conclusions Current trial eligibility criteria are often strict and limit the enrolment of patients in clinical trials. Our results suggest that, depending on the chosen drug, its toxicities and tolerability, eligibility criteria could be carefully reviewed and relaxed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e291-e297
JournalCurrent Oncology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • Clinical trial eligibility
  • Non-small-cell lung cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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