Meta-analytic reviews of Randomized Clinical Trials (RCT) have reached contradictory conclusions regarding the benefit of medical interventions in Advanced Colorectal Cancer (ACRC). Surrogate markers of survival benefit, such as response rate (RR) and progression free-survival (PFS) often show contradictory and highly variable correlations [1-6]. These contradictions can be due to differences in 1) the studies analysed (sources), 2) the quality of clinical trials (intrinsic bias in the design, biased data analysis, heterogeneous PFS definitions) and 3) the second-line strategies between arms. PFS is a more vulnerable target than overall survival (OS), but the latter can also be affected by different biases and additional medical interventions such as secondary resection of metastases or second-line therapies. Therefore the correlation between PFS and survival must be clearly stated if PFS is to be considered as a primary endpoint. Of the differences between studies, only the quality of clinical trials can be improved by a deeper knowledge of both the area of study (i.e. colorectal cancer) and the methodology needed (i.e., clinical and translational trials). The aim of this manuscript is to offer the basic resources to develop experimental trials in ACRC. To this end, techniques for diagnosis and for response assessment are discussed, prognostic factors and treatment standards are critically exposed, and notes about how to design useful translational studies are provided. © 2011 Bentham Science Publishers Ltd.
- Advanced colorectal cancer
- Surrogate markers