The 4th Quality of Life and Cancer Clinical Trials Conference was recently hosted by the EORTC, in Brussels. The 2-day event was an opportunity to hear from leading policy makers from the European Parliament, regulators from the FDA and EMA, and also 36 of the world’s leading Quality of Life (QOL) academic researchers. Over 350 attendees from more than 44 countries participated in the conference, illustrating the global interest for using QOL research in cancer clinical trials.
After listening to many speakers over the two days, it became evident that the assessment of QOL is a rapidly developing field, where many stakeholders have numerous complex needs and demands that have to be met. Both industry and academic clinical trial groups reported on how they are adapting to these changes. Additionally, while QOL assessments historically have been simple pen and paper tests, nowadays computerized systems are being tested and rolled out in the USA and across the EU. It is expected that within a few years, the routine collection of QOL and PRO data in clinical trials will be done electronically, thereby reducing missing data, a common problem still evident in international trials.
Several presentations highlighted the importance of the EORTC’s role in shaping the cancer clinical trial landscape, such as developing newer approaches to assess QOL, leading initiatives to develop standardized approaches in the analysis of QOL in clinical trials, and improving quality by standardizing the translations of their QOL tools. EU legislators and stakeholders also presented at the conference, discussing not only what they have done to promote clinical trials and QOL, but also future developments (including updates on the EMA QOL guidelines). US researchers and stakeholders presented on their latest developments and novel approaches, including new measurement tools. Moreover, much of the conference focused on the common challenges patients experience, such as cognitive impairment, and impaired sexual functioning. Exploring the needs of young children and adolescents was also discussed. Importantly, the conference also focused on patients’ needs and explored patients’ own views on critical issues of cancer survivorship.
Overall, the conference feedback from participants reflected that it was a major success, with over 12 hours of presentations and discussions which helped bring the issues of QOL to the forefront of cancer clinical trials. We are pleased to say that videos of all the talks can be accessed freely here. With the overwhelming positive feedback from this event, EORTC is already planning to host its 5th QOL and Cancer Clinical Trials Conference in 2019.
Andrew Bottomley, PhD, Assistant Director, Head of Quality of Life Department, EORTC.