Patient recruitment: 4 challenges when it comes to oncology trials

1st January, 1970

Patient recruitment: 4 challenges when it comes to oncology trials

Patient recruitment is challenging when it comes to clinical operations; but it’s even more troubling in oncology specific trials. This article will look at 4 obstacles that are common for patient recruitment and retention in oncology.

1.       Public awareness of clinical trials

Awareness about clinical trials and especially about oncology specific ones have been going up in recent years, however it is still shockingly low. Simple as it sounds but if public is largely unaware of oncology trials it gets really hard to recruit them. Social media and advanced technologies can be a solution here!

2.       Misconceptions about oncology trials

Misconceptions about oncology trials are very common as well. This involves vague understanding about the manner in which the trial is conducted or low awareness on the phases of the clinical trials in oncology. Popular myths involve public opinions that oncology trials are only appropriate for people who have already tried standard treatments and ran out of options; that they will never know the results of oncology trial and similar.

3.       Oncology trials VS patient’s needs

Another big problem with trials in oncology is that in many cases they won’t necessarily be interesting for physicians or meet the needs of patient population. Thus we are seeing a big increase in patient-centric oncology trials, and the growing importance of technology to make them successful.

4.       Finding right patients

It is also worth noting how hard is to recruit right patients in oncology. In a regular clinical trial you could find someone who is at risk of developing a disease, making them eligible for the trial. Dilemma with oncology is that they need to be ill, but not too ill in order to stay throughout the length of oncology trial.


It is clear that there are many challenges associated with oncology specific clinical research. Also, this article has only looked at patient recruitment and retention aspects in oncology. Other troubling areas cover protocols, study conduct, financial aspects and consent complexities – if you want to learn more about any of these areas in oncology, we do recommend visiting Clinical Operations in Oncology Trials conference in Munich this December. During the event you will have an opportunity to learn from oncology professionals, get involved in panel discussions and debate issues with your industry peers.


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