Progression-free survival as surrogate and as true end point: insights from the breast and colorectal cancer literature

E D Saad, A Katz, P M Hoff, M Buyse
Annals of Oncology: Official Journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology 2010, 21 (1): 7-12
Significant achievements in the systemic treatment of both advanced breast cancer and advanced colorectal cancer over the past 10 years have led to a growing number of drugs, combinations, and sequences to be tested. The choice of surrogate and true end points has become a critical issue and one that is currently the subject of much debate. Many recent randomized trials in solid tumor oncology have used progression-free survival (PFS) as the primary end point. PFS is an attractive end point because it is available earlier than overall survival (OS) and is not influenced by second-line treatments. PFS is now undergoing validation as a surrogate end point in various disease settings. The question of whether PFS can be considered an acceptable surrogate end point depends not only on formal validation studies but also on a standardized definition and unbiased ascertainment of disease progression in clinical trials. In advanced breast cancer, formal validation of PFS as a surrogate for OS has so far been unsuccessful. In advanced colorectal cancer, in contrast, current evidence indicates that PFS is a valid surrogate for OS after first-line treatment with chemotherapy. The other question is whether PFS sufficiently reflects clinical benefit to be considered a true end point in and of itself.

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