Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses of Oncology Studies
This chapter is intended principally for practicing clinicians who want to understand the concepts of and reasons for conducting systematic reviews and meta-analyses in oncology. Although there are a few striking examples of cancer treatments that really do work extremely well, most claims for efficacy turn out to be limited. Uncertainties coming from results obtained by different clinical studies need to be interpreted. Systematic reviews can define whether scientific findings are consistent and can be generalized across populations and treatment variations, or whether findings vary significantly by particular subsets. Meta-analyses can increase the power and precision of estimates of treatment effects and exposure risks. Explicit methods should be used to limit bias and improve the reliability and accuracy of conclusions. In the field of clinical oncology, there are several reasons for conducting a systematic review with meta-analyses. Here we discuss how to perform and interpret these studies, and present the main statistical concepts with examples from the literature.
KeywordsSystematic review Meta-analysis Oncology Cancer Individual patient data Metabias
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