Affordable Access

Analysis of progression-free survival in oncology trials: some common statistical issues.

Authors
  • Carroll, Kevin J
Type
Published Article
Journal
Pharmaceutical statistics
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2007
Volume
6
Issue
2
Pages
99–113
Identifiers
PMID: 17243095
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

With the advent of ever more effective second and third line cancer treatments and the growing use of 'crossover' trial designs in oncology, in which patients switch to the alternate randomized treatment upon disease progression, progression-free survival (PFS) is an increasingly important endpoint in oncologic drug development. However, several concerns exist regarding the use of PFS as a basis to compare treatments. Unlike survival, the exact time of progression is unknown, so progression times might be over-estimated and, consequently, bias may be introduced when comparing treatments. Further, it is not uncommon for randomized therapy to be stopped prior to progression being documented due to toxicity or the initiation of additional anti-cancer therapy; in such cases patients are frequently not followed further for progression and, consequently, are right-censored in the analysis. This article reviews these issues and concludes that concerns relating to the exact timing of progression are generally overstated, with analysis techniques and simple alternative endpoints available to either remove bias entirely or at least provide reassurance via supportive analyses that bias is not present. Further, it is concluded that the regularly recommended manoeuvre to censor PFS time at dropout due to toxicity or upon the initiation of additional anti-cancer therapy is likely to favour the more toxic, less efficacious treatment and so should be avoided whenever possible.

Report this publication

Statistics

Seen <100 times