(HealthDay News) — During the COVID-19 pandemic, participation in cancer clinical treatment trials recovered, according to a study published online in JAMA Network Open.

Joseph M. Unger, PhD, from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues examined cancer clinical trial enrollment 1 year after the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic was characterized as having an initial wave (March 1 to April 25, 2020) and a winter 2020 to 2021 wave (Oct. 4, 2020, to Jan. 23, 2021).

The researchers found that 24,034 patients were enrolled before the pandemic and 5364 during the pandemic. There was a 9.0% model-estimated weekly reduction in enrollments during the initial COVID-19 wave (relative risk, 0.91), with effects compounding each week. There was recovery in enrollment, which decreased again during the winter 2020 to 2021 wave, although by only 2.0% each week (relative risk, 0.98). Actual enrollments were 77.3% of expected enrollments overall; however, they varied by trial type: 54.0% of expected for cancer control and prevention trials and 91.0% for treatment trials.


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“These findings suggest that clinical trial research rapidly adapted to the circumstances of enrolling and treating patients on protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the authors write.

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