The Particulars: Previous studies indicate that less than 5% of adults with cancer enroll in clinical trials, despite their vital role in evaluating new cancer therapies. Lack of patient awareness or understanding regarding trial participation may be among patient–provider communication factors that serve as barriers to trial enrollment.

Data Breakdown: American researchers surveyed nearly 8,000 patients with lung or colorectal cancer to assess whether they learned that clinical trial participation might be an option, and if so, with whom they first discussed this option. Of those who responded, 14.1% reported discussing clinical trial participation, but only 3.6% enrolled. Of those who discussed participation, most learned about trials from their physicians. Among patients who received chemotherapy for advanced cancer, 25.7% discussed participating in clinical trials and 7.6% enrolled. Clinical trial discussions were most common among college-educated patients and those with incomes over $60,000 per year. These discussions were least commonly reported by older patients. Enrollment was highest among patients who reported shared decision-making as opposed to physician-driven decisions.

Take Home Pearls: Less than one-sixth of patients with lung or colorectal cancer appear to discuss the possibility of participating in clinical trials with their physicians. Clinical trial discussions were more frequent among those with advanced disease but were still rare. Strategies to facilitate patient–provider communication about clinical trial participation may improve enrollment rates.