Enrollment in clinical trials for cancer dropped as COVID-19 cases rose, study shows

Patient enrollment in clinical trials sponsored by the National Cancer Institute dropped significantly in March when the country experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases, a new study shows.

The study, published in JAMA Network Open, examined enrollment in clinical trials conducted by the SWOG Cancer Research Network, a member of the National Cancer Institute's Community Oncology Research Program. Researchers studied enrollments between Jan. 1 and April 25. They compared the enrollment numbers to the incidence of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. in the same time period.

They found that weekly total enrollments ranged from 125 to 150 per week in the period between week one (Jan. 1-4) and week 11 (March 8-14).

The weekly total enrollment dropped to 109 in week 12 (March 15-21), when COVID-19 cases increased from 2,918 to 25,697. From week 13 (March 22-28) until the end of the study period, weekly enrollments remained at 74 patients.

In total, 1,870 patients were enrolled over the study period. Of these patients, 1431 (76.5 percent) were enrolled from weeks one to 11, and 439 (23.5 percent) from weeks 12 to17.

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