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Can phase I cancer research studies in children be justified on ethical grounds?
  1. Henry Ekert
  1. Emeritus Professor Henry Ekert was Director of the Department of Haematology-Oncology at the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne from 1975–2000, and worked as a consultant paediatric oncologist for more than 37 years.
  1. Correspondence to Professor Henry Ekert, PO Box 2096, Brighton VIC 3186, Australia; ekerthenry{at}

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Joshua Crites and Eric Kodish focuses on unrealistic optimism as a significant factor in parental decisions when consenting for their child to participate in a phase I study.1 They define unrealistic optimism as ‘when people perceive their own personal outcomes as being more positive than those of other people in similar circumstances’. Faced with the dire circumstances of relapsed malignant disease with a fatal outcome, most parents are confronted with the dilemma of either accepting the inevitable death of their child or clinging to straws of hope. When approached by an investigator who suggests that there is still something that can be done in the ‘fight against the disease’ there is an opportunity to retain a glimmer of hope. No matter how impartial and accurate …

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  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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