Patients taking part in trials of new cancer drugs have unrealistic expectations that experimental treatment will save them, a study by the Royal Marsden Hospital in London has found.
Almost half of more than 300 cancer patients considering signing up for early-stage research believed their tumours would shrink, with hopes rising after they discussed the trials with their doctors, research found.
In fact, phase I clinical trials - which are the first experiments on humans following studies on laboratory animals, produce typical cancer response rates of between four per cent and 20 per cent. Enrolled patients, who often have advanced cancer that is not responding to standard therapy, survive for around six months on average.
The study examined the expectations of patients considering signing up to take part in trials.
Overall, patients were keen to experiment with new drugs, with up to 84 per cent of those taking part in research saying they would be willing to enrol.
But 47 per cent of patients were keen to do so because they expected the new drugs to shrink tumours which had often failed to respond to any other treatment.
Dr Udai Banerji, from the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: "The high percentage of patients expecting their tumours to shrink was a sobering finding."
The findings are published online in the American Cancer Society journal Cancer.