Reporting of Late Morbidity After Radiation Therapy in Large Prospective Studies: A Descriptive Review of the Current Status.
The purpose of this review was to evaluate the current status of reporting prospectively assessed late morbidity after curative radiation therapy in large clinical studies.
METHODS AND MATERIALS
A descriptive review on publications from 10 high-impact journals with a primary or partial focus on radiation therapy published between December 1, 2015, and November 30, 2017, was conducted. Publications were considered eligible if they reported prospectively assessed late morbidity after curative radiation therapy and included ≥200 patients with cancer of any type. Full text publication and supplementary material were analyzed according to items based on extensions to the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) statement regarding reporting of harms and patient reported outcomes.
Overall, 802 publications were identified in PubMed; of these, 69 met the eligibility criteria. Mild and moderate morbidity were reported in 40% and 57% of publications; aggregated endpoints instead of individual endpoints were reported in 23%. In 43% of publications, crude incidence of worst grade of morbidity was used as the only statistical method for summarizing physician-assessed morbidity. Duration of morbidity or recurrent events were not reported in any of the publications.
Comprehensive, quantitative reporting of late morbidity after radiation therapy is challenging because of the high dimensionality and time evolution of the range of normal tissue effects. The following suggestions and recommendations are proposed: (1) report on individual severity grades, including moderate and mild; (2) use patient reported outcomes in complement to physician-assessed morbidity; (3) report on individual symptoms/endpoints on top of aggregated endpoints; (4) report on duration of morbidity or recurrent events; (5) take steps toward a consensus on severity grading scales/patient questionnaires; (6) use time to event analysis and prevalence rates; (7) report or use statistical methods accounting for pretreatment morbidity when relevant.