Intended for healthcare professionals


Mixed findings on oncology drugs . . . and other stories

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: (Published 19 January 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j202

Oncology drugs and overall survival

An analysis of 53 new cancer drugs licensed between 2003 and 2013 tried to determine their added value using health technology assessments in England, France, and Australia (JAMA Oncol doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.4166). The studies showed a wide range in the size of effects, which made them hard to assess owing to a mix of comparators and varying outcome measures. About 40% of the drugs improved quality of life, and about the same quantity reduced patient safety. The mean increase in overall survival over this period was 3.4 months.

Palliative care and overall survival

Few cancer trials compare active treatment with palliative care alone for those with advanced disease. Systematic reviewers found 10 trials between 1977 and 2009 that met their inclusion …

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