Underreporting of research biopsies from clinical trials in oncology

Christine M. Parseghian, Kanwal Raghav, Robert A. Wolff, Joe Ensor, James Yao, Lee M. Ellis, Alda L. Tam, Michael J. Overman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Purpose: Research biopsies are frequently incorporated within clinical trials in oncology and are often a mandatory requirement for trial enrollment. However, limited information is available regarding the extent and completeness of research biopsy reporting. Experimental Design: We identified a cohort of therapeutic clinical trials where research biopsies were performed between January 2005 and October 2010 from an IR database at our institution. Clinical trial protocols were compared with the highest level of corresponding publication as a manuscript or registry report. Results: A total of 866 research biopsies were performed across 46 clinical trials, with a median of 8 patients biopsied/ trial and 19 biopsies collected/trial. After a median follow-up time of 4.3 years from trial completion, 36 of 46 trials (78%) reported trial results: published manuscripts (n = 35), or registry report (n = 1). A total of 635 conducted biopsies were reported in 18 of the 46 trials (39%). Six (33%) of these 18 trials underreported the number of biopsies performed. Of 33 trials with mandatory research biopsies, 13 (39%) trials reported on these biopsies. Biopsy complications occurred in 8 trials [n = 39 patients, 6 grade 3/4 adverse events (AE)] but only 1 trial reported these. Factors associated with biopsy reporting included a larger number of biopsies (P ≤ 0.001) and serial biopsies (P < 0.001). Twelve of 16 (75%) trials with >12 biopsies performed reported on these biopsies compared with only 20% (6/30) that performed ≤12 biopsies. Conclusions: Despite ethical obligations to report research biopsies, the majority (61%) of trials do not report results from research biopsies. Complications are rarely reported in these studies. Improved reporting of results and AEs from research biopsies is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6450-6457
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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