General information on clinical trials

Editor:  Prof. Dr. med. Ursula Creutzig, English Translation:  Dr. med. Gesche Tallen, Last modification: 2011/01/13

Cancer in a person younger than 18 years is rare in Europe. It accounts for only 1% of all childhood diseases. Therefore, networks of paediatric oncologists conducting multicentric, cooperative, standardised clinical trials in Germany have already been established in the Seventies with the primary goal to obtain valid data from large patient cohorts with the same type of cancer, based on which future diagnostic and treatment concepts can be optimised.

The treatment protocols are designed by the Society of Paediatric Oncology and Haematology (Gesellschaft für Pädiatrische Onkologie und Hämatologie, GPOH) and continuously optimised based on the most current scientific knowledge obtained by previous trials. Overall, the concept of these clinical studies is based on the comparative testing of the effectiveness of multimodal treatment concepts (rather than on studying single drugs). The major goal is to further increase cure rates and also reduce long term side-effects, and thus to improve the quantity and the quality of cure.

The progress made in treating cancer in the young by conducting and continuously optimising clinical trials is one of the undisputed success stories in modern medicine. Paediatric oncologists and childhood cancer researchers participating in multicentric cooperative clinical trials of the GPOH are represented in more than 90 treatment centres in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.