On the development of the Medical Research Council trial of alpha-interferon in metastatic renal carcinoma

P M Fayers, P A Cook, D. Machin, N Donaldson, J. Whitehead, A Ritchie, R T Oliver, P. Yuen

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Abstract

This paper describes the steps taken by the British Medical Research Council (MRC) in developing the MRC RE01 trial, a randomized clinical trial for patients with metastatic renal cancer; we discuss the reasons for adopting a triangular sequential design and the impact that this has upon the monitoring of the trial. It had been suggested to the MRC that a trial of biological agents for metastatic renal carcinoma should be initiated. The Cancer Therapy Committee (CTC) of the MRC, through its associated site specific working parties, is responsible for designing and co-ordinating randomized trials of alternative treatments in cancer in solid tumours. Since no MRC working party for renal carcinoma existed at that time, development began by the formation of an ad hoc group set up under the auspices of the CTC. They assessed, by means of a postal questionnaire, U.K. interest in the trials of, and modalities utilized for, treatment of renal cancer. The responses focused attention on the important questions to ask and indicated the level of potential collaboration. These responses and related clinical and statistical issues suggested a protocol to compare medroxy-progesterone acetate (MPA) against alpha-interferon (alpha-IFN). In view of the special problems of comparing an expensive and potentially toxic therapy with an inexpensive and non-toxic standard, a sequential design was used rather than a fixed sample size design. Statistical issues raised and solutions provided are described. The method of establishing the trial data monitoring committee and a brief review of mortality from renal carcinoma in England and Wales are also included. The trial opened to patient recruitment on 1 January 1992
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2249-2260
Number of pages12
JournalStatistics in Medicine
Volume13
Issue number21
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1994

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    Fayers, P. M., Cook, P. A., Machin, D., Donaldson, N., Whitehead, J., Ritchie, A., Oliver, R. T., & Yuen, P. (1994). On the development of the Medical Research Council trial of alpha-interferon in metastatic renal carcinoma. Statistics in Medicine, 13(21), 2249-2260. https://doi.org/10.1002/sim.4780132106