Ethics of mandatory research biopsy for correlative end points within clinical trials in oncology.
Clinical investigators in oncology are increasingly interested in using molecular analysis of cancer tissue to understand the biologic bases of response or resistance to novel interventions and to develop prognostic and predictive biomarkers that will guide clinical decision making. Some scientific questions of this nature can only be addressed, or may best be addressed, through the conduct of a clinical trial in which research biopsies are obtained from all participants. However, trial designs with mandatory research biopsies have raised ethical concerns related to the risk of harm to participants, the adequacy of voluntary informed consent, and the potential for misunderstanding among research participants when access to an experimental intervention is linked to the requirement to undergo a research biopsy. In consideration of the ethical and scientific issues at stake in this debate, the Cancer and Leukemia Group B Ethics Committee proposes guidelines for clinical trials involving mandatory research biopsies. Any cancer clinical trial that requires research biopsies of participants must be well designed to address the scientific question, obtain the biopsy in a way that minimizes risk, and ensure that research participants are fully informed of the risks, rationale, and requirements of the study, as well as of treatment alternatives. Further guidelines and discussions of this issue are specified in this position paper. We feel that if these principles are respected, an informed adult with cancer can both understand and voluntarily consent to participation in a clinical trial involving mandatory research biopsy for scientific end points.
Peppercorn, J; Shapira, I; Collyar, D; Deshields, T; Lin, N; Krop, I; Grunwald, H; Friedman, P; Partridge, AH; Schilsky, RL; Bertagnolli, MM
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