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Cancer trials can lack clear information on biopsies

Published: 9 Nov 2012

People participating in cancer drug trials aren't always given the most straightforward explanation of possible risks and benefits from invasive procedures that may be involved, according to a new study. Biopsies of tumor tissue can help researchers figure out how well a test drug is working - but the invasive, sometimes painful procedures are typically of little benefit to study participants themselves. The new findings show more than five percent of biopsies in such trials may result in complications, but that informed consent documents spend less time explaining those risks than they do for simple blood draws, which are much less invasive. "Most of these procedures don't have any therapeutic value for patients, they are burdensome, they're painful and they carry risk," said Jonathan Kimmelman, from the Biomedical Ethics Unit at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. "Before you do a procedure like that on patients, you really want to have their adequate informed consent," Kimmelman, who wasn't involved in the new study, told Reuters Health.

Read more at Chicago Tribune, CBS News etc (Reuters)

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