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A Bayesian dose-escalation procedure for phase I clinical trials based only on the assumption of monotonicity.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date30/07/2010
JournalStatistics in Medicine
Journal number17
Volume29
Number of pages17
Pages1808-1824
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Despite an enormous and growing statistical literature, formal procedures for dose-finding are only slowly being implemented in phase I clinical trials. Even in oncology and other life-threatening conditions in which a balance between efficacy and toxicity has to be struck, model-based approaches, such as the Continual Reassessment Method, have not been universally adopted. Two related concerns have limited the adoption of the new methods. One relates to doubts about the appropriateness of models assumed to link the risk of toxicity to dose, and the other is the difficulty of communicating the nature of the process to clinical investigators responsible for early phase studies. In this paper, we adopt a new Bayesian approach involving a simple model assuming only monotonicity in the dose-toxicity relationship. The parameters that define the model have immediate and simple interpretation. The approach can be applied automatically, and we present a simulation investigation of its properties when it is. More importantly, it can be used in a transparent fashion as one element in the expert consideration of what dose to administer to the next patient or group of patients. The procedure serves to summarize the opinions and the data concerning risks of a binary characterization of toxicity which can then be considered, together with additional and less tidy trial information, by the clinicians responsible for making decisions on the allocation of doses. Graphical displays of these opinions can be used to ease communication with investigators.