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Panel Advocates More, Bigger Cancer Trials

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WASHINGTON, Jun 22, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- U.S. medical professionals said Tuesday the country needs more cancer clinical trials to accelerate research progress in treating the disease.

At a multi-disciplinary panel convened to discuss the impacts of the newly passed Medicare Modernization Act, Mark McClellan, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the agency hopes to bring together oncology experts to study and increase clinical evidence on cancer treatments.

About 1.3 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States this year, but less than 5 percent will enroll in cancer clinical trials, which panelists said are crucial for testing new therapies for effectiveness and potential harm.

Larry Norton of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York said more large, randomized trials are needed so participants can receive treatment and treatments can become more widely available with a confident evidence base.

He shunned treatments based only on theoretical benefits, such as high-dosage chemotherapy to cancer patients and hormone replacement therapy to post-menopausal women for years without clinical evidence.

"Unless you do it right, you don't have knowledge," Norton said.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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