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Br J Cancer. 2002 Sep 9;87(6):615-20.

Effects of patient selection on the applicability of results from a randomised clinical trial (EORTC 10853) investigating breast-conserving therapy for DCIS.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, The Netherlands Cancer Institute Plesmanlaan 121, 1066 CX Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Selection of patients for randomised clinical trials may have a large impact on the applicability of the study results to the general population presenting the same disorder. However, clinical characteristics and outcome data on non-entered patients are usually not available. The effects of patient selection for the EORTC 10853 trial investigating the role of radiotherapy in breast conserving therapy for ductal carcinoma in situ have been studied, in an analysis of all patients treated for ductal carcinoma in situ in five participating institutes. The reasons for not entering patients were evaluated and treatment results of the randomised patients were compared to those not entered. A total of 910 patients were treated for ductal carcinoma in situ. Of these, 477 (52%) were ineligible, with the size of the lesion being the main reason for ineligibility (30% of all ductal carcinoma in situ). Of the 433 eligible patients, 278 (64%) were randomised into the trial. The main reasons for non-entry of eligible patients were either physicians' preference for one of the treatment arms (26%) or patients' refusal (9%). These percentages showed significant variation among the institutes. At 4 years follow-up, those patients not entered in the trial and treated with local excision and radiotherapy, had higher local recurrence rates than the patients randomised in the trial and treated with the same approach, (17 vs 2%, P=0.03). The patients treated with local excision alone had equal local recurrence rates (11% in both groups). Selection of patients may explain the differences in outcome of the randomised patients, and those not-entered. Thus, the results of this trial may not be applicable to all patients with ductal carcinoma in situ.

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