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J Biopharm Stat. 2013;23(5):951-70. doi: 10.1080/10543406.2013.813515.

Missing data and censoring in the analysis of progression-free survival in oncology clinical trials.

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Eli Lilly & Co., Indianapolis, Indiana 46285 , USA.


Progression-free survival (PFS) is increasingly used as a primary endpoint in oncology clinical trials. However, trial conduct is often such that PFS data on some patients may be partially missing either due to incomplete follow-up for progression, or due to data that may be collected but confounded by patients stopping randomized therapy or starting alternative therapy prior to progression. Regulatory guidance on how to handle these patients in the analysis and whether to censor these patients differs between agencies. We present results of a reanalysis of 28 Phase III trials from 12 companies or institutions performed by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association-sponsored PFS Expert Team. We show that analyses not adhering to the intention-to-treat principle tend to give hazard ratio estimates further from unity and describe several factors associated with this shift. We present illustrative simulations to support these findings and provide recommendations for the analysis of PFS.

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