Research Article| Volume 45, ISSUE 2, P290-299, January 2009

Validation of novel imaging methodologies for use as cancer clinical trial end-points

Published:December 17, 2008DOI:


      The success or failure of a clinical trial, of any phase, depends critically on the choice of an appropriate primary end-point. In the setting of phases II and III cancer clinical trials, imaging end-points have historically, and continue presently to play a major role in determining therapeutic efficacy. The primary goal of this paper is to discuss the validation of imaging-based markers as end-points for phase II clinical trials of cancer therapy. Specifically, we outline the issues that must be considered, and the criteria that would need to be satisfied, for an imaging end-point to supplement or potentially replace RECIST- defined tumour status as a phase II clinical trial end-point. The key criteria proposed to judge the utility of a new end-point primarily relate to its ability to accurately and reproducibly predict the eventual phase III end-point for treatment effect, which is usually assessed by a difference between two arms on progression free or overall survival, both at the patient and more importantly at the trial level. As will be demonstrated, the level of evidence required to formally and fully validate a new imaging marker as an appropriate end-point for phase II trials is substantial. In many cases, this level of evidence will only become available by conducting a series of coordinated prospectively designed multicentre clinical trials culminating in a formal meta-analysis. We also include a discussion of situations where flexibility may be required, relative to the ideal rigorous evaluation, to accommodate inevitable real-world feasibility constraints.


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