American Association for Cancer Research

Scientists on Science

Clinical Trials and Special Patient Populations

What role do patients’ ethnicity, sex, age and geographic location play in cancer research and treatment?


A talk by Dr. Alex A. Adjei

Alex Adjei Alex A. Adjei, MD, PhD, is the senior vice president of clinical research and the chairman of the department of medicine at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y. His clinical and research programs focus on novel therapeutics for lung cancer and phase I clinical trials.

In April 2005, as part of AACR’s ScientistSurvivor Program, Adjei spoke to a group of survivor and patient advocates about the implications when clinical trials don’t account for special populations of participants, such as patients from minority ethnic groups, women, young and old age groups, and diverse geographical locations. In his talk, Adjei discusses the fundamentals of clinical trials, what makes a patient population a special population, how special populations are often ignored in trials of new cancer treatments, and what can go wrong when that happens. He also talks about the new frontier of targeted cancer drugs and why it’s more important than ever to consider special patient populations when testing these treatments. Adjei’s lecture is presented here, in an adapted form, edited for the Survivors and Advocates website.

For more information about Dr. Alex A. Adjei, please click here.

Please click on the links in the outline below to read Adjei's talk:

1—Clinical Trials: What are they? What are phase I and phase II trials?

2What are special populations? A look at women and minorities

3Location, location, location: U.S. versus Japan—same cancer drug, unexpectedly different outcomes

4New cancer drugs and special populations

5How our bodies handle drugs differently

6A final word about genetic differences


Feb. 6, 2007