Stopping a clinical trial early: frequentist and Bayesian approaches applied to a CALGB trial in non-small-cell lung cancer.
(Clinical Trial;Clinical Trial, Phase III;Journal Article)
In May 1984, the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) opened a phase III clinical trial for patients with stage III non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The experimental design entailed randomization of 240 patients equally to one of two treatments: radiotherapy alone or chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy. The original design was a fixed sample size design with the intent to analyse the results after 190 deaths. Shortly after the trial began, it was decided to apply group sequential concepts by using a truncated O'Brien-Fleming stopping rule, implemented via a Lan-DeMets alpha-spending function. A study monitoring committee was established to review the analyses as they were produced. The study was stopped at the fifth interim analysis in May 1987 after 155 eligible patients had been entered. This paper reviews the statistical and other considerations leading to this decision and presents later follow-up information on these patients. Some Bayesian alternatives to the standard frequentist approaches are also explored and it is demonstrated how these alternatives provide a natural way to address many of the issues raised in monitoring clinical trials.
George, SL; Li, C; Berry, DA; Green, MR
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