When Cure Is Not the Goal: Ethical Issues Surrounding Early-Phase Research

  • Bryan SiskEmail author
  • Eric Kodish


Pediatric cancer was once a uniformly fatal disease. Sidney Farber, a pioneer of pediatric chemotherapy, was initially criticized for tormenting children by administering experimental chemotherapy when it would have been kinder and gentler to “let them die in peace.” [1] Now, almost 70 years later, the 5-year survival rates in pediatric leukemia are greater than 80% [2]. Clinical studies have served as the engine for these successes. Today, approximately 80% of children with cancer are enrolled in clinical trials. However, the benefits of these studies to society must be balanced against the risks to individual participants, and research subjects must be protected from coercion, exploitation, and any undue harm.


Ethics Early-phase research Phase clinical trials Phase cancer trials Phase oncology trials Oncology Pediatric cancer Informed consent Children 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PediatricsWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Pediatric Hematology Oncology and Blood and Marrow Transplantation, Cleveland Clinic Main CampusClevelandUSA
  3. 3.Department of Bioethics and Department of Pediatrics, School of MedicineCancer Prevention Control and Population Research Program, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA

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