Background: Clinical trials are an essential part of evidence-based cancer care. Despite the recognised benefits, the opportunity to participate is not equitable, cancer patients residing in rural locations are less likely to participate.
Aims: To describe trial characteristics and patient participation in cancer clinical trials in Victoria.
Methods: Victorian Cancer Council Clinical Trials Management Scheme (CTMS) data was obtained. CTMS data is collected annually from all sites in Victoria conducting cancer clinical trials. The following variables were collected for analysis: trial name, tumour stream, phase, site, participant postcode and total number of newly enrolled patients and patients in follow up (i.e. they have consented to a trial in a previous year and continue to participate in trial activities). Descriptive statistics were used to scope trial characteristics and patient participation.
Results: Data was available from 30 of 31 CTMS sites, of which seven are regional. There were 1886 new trial enrolments and 3897 patients in follow-up. The distribution of new trial enrolment by age group was; 3% paediatric (0-14years), 4% adolescent and young adult (15-35years) and 90% adult (35years plus), missing data accounted for 3%. The mean age of participants was 60.7 years with an age range of one to 89 years. Activity was predominately metropolitan based with 83% of new participants and 96% of participants in follow-up there. The number of trials available at each site ranged between one and 176, with more trials available at metropolitan sites. Of the 1049 active trials the trial phase splits were; phase III (54%); phase II (20%) and phase I (14%). Trials in haematology (31%), breast cancer (17%) and urinary cancer (12%) were most prevalent and had the highest activity.
Conclusion: Understanding the entire Victorian cohort provides a framework for scoping the involvement of rural cancer patients and identifying inequities in care.