Are clinical trial eligibility criteria representative of older patients with lung cancer? A population-based data linkage study
Tang M., Pearson SA., Schaffer AL., Lewis CR., John T., Simes RJ., Lee CK.
Objectives: Older adults constitute the majority of patients with lung cancer. However, they are under-represented in clinical trials as eligibility criteria often restrict enrolment based on comorbidities that are common with aging. We aimed to describe comorbidities relating to trial exclusion criteria in older adults with lung cancer, determine the proportion that would typically be excluded from trials, and examine the impact on treatment uptake. Materials and Methods: We conducted a population-based study of people aged ≥65 years diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer using linked data for clients of the Australian Government Department of Veterans' Affairs (2005–2015). We defined trial-typical patients based on the absence of comorbidities related to the following: inadequate organ (cardiac, renal, hepatic, marrow) function; cognitive dysfunction; poor performance status (PS); prior malignancy within 5 years. We report systemic therapy uptake within 3 months of diagnosis. Results: Our study included 677 patients (median age 84). Over half (53.4%) were not trial-typical, with the most common reasons being poor PS (37.5%), cardiac disease (19.2%), and prior cancer (12.9%). Eighty-two (12.1%) received systemic therapy. Patients with poor PS, cardiac disease, and dementia had lower treatment uptake rates. However, there was no significant difference in treatment uptake between trial-typical and non-trial-typical patients (13.4 vs 11.0%). Conclusion: More than half of older adults with advanced lung cancer would be typically excluded from trial participation. Future clinical trials of older adults need to consider broader eligibility criteria to better reflect this population to gain the best evidence for their care.