Experiences of Patients After Withdrawal from Cancer Clinical Trials

After undergoing traditional treatments, a cancer clinical trial (CCT) can seem like the only option for many cancer patients. Despite this, little is known about cancer patients who withdraw from a CCT. A recent study featuring PISC Executive Committee Member Therese S. Richmond, PhD, RN, assessed patient experiences after withdrawing from a CCT. A qualitative study was conducted through a semi-structured interview process through the University of Pennsylvania National Cancer Institute. Twenty patients, the majority of whom were white, were interviewed from September 2015 to June 2019 over the phone. Results indicate a variety of reasons for withdrawing from the CCT. Thirteen participants withdrew because of disease progression, and five participants withdrew because of adverse side effects from the treatment. After leaving the program, many patients felt there was no clear path forward. Patients described “feeling intense symptoms and emotions and awareness that their life span was short and options seemed to be limited.” The team concludes that ethical posttrial care be provided to support cancer patients who withdraw from a CCT during what has been identified as a period of vulnerability.

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