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Palliative care and cancer trials
  1. S M Brown1,
  2. K Sikora2,
  3. A Levin3
  1. 1Section of Palliative Care, Department of Oncology, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh, MBC 64, Department of Oncology, PO Box 3354, Riyadh 11211, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia;
  2. 2Department of Cancer Medicine, Imperial College, Hammersmith Hospital, London W12 0NN, UK and Global Clinical Development AstraZeneca, Macclesfield SK10 4TG, UK
  3. 3East Africa Research Project, Department of Virology, St Bartholomew’s and the Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry, 38 Little Britain Street, London EC1A 7BE, UK

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    Two of the most important concepts in medicine are “curing” and “caring”. Patients should enter clinical trials with the understanding that they benefit from the treatment or that there may be some benefit to others. In many cancer trials, for example, the best that can be hoped for is a prolongation of life. Whether or not life is prolonged, we argue that there exists an obligation which can be termed a “bond of responsibility” to provide appropriate palliative care within the patient’s own cultural context.

    The Declaration of Helsinki,1 the principal code governing the conduct of medical research, shows this “bond of responsibility” to be at its core. A number of statements stand out: “the health of my patient will be my first consideration”2 and “a physician shall only act in a patient’s best interest when providing medical care which might have the effect of weakening the physical and mental …

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