Ethical issues in non-intervention trials for thyroid cancer

Eur J Surg Oncol. 2018 Mar;44(3):316-320. doi: 10.1016/j.ejso.2017.03.002. Epub 2017 Mar 16.


In recent years, the increasing numbers of small, apparently indolent thyroid cancers diagnosed in the world have encouraged investigators to consider non-intervention as an alternative to surgical management. In the following pages, the prospect of a non-intervention trial for thyroid cancer is considered with attention to the ethical issues that such a trial might raise. Such a non-intervention trial is analyzed relative to 7 ethical considerations: the social or scientific value of the research, the scientific validity of the trial, the necessity of fair selection of participants, a favorable risk-benefit ratio for trial participants, independent review of the trial, informed consent, and allowing the study participants to withdraw from the trial. A non-intervention trial for thyroid cancer is also considered relative to the central concept of equipoise.

Keywords: Clinical trials; Equipoise; Ethics; Non-intervention; Research ethics; Thyroid cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic / ethics*
  • Disease Progression
  • Ethics, Research*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent*
  • Patient Selection / ethics
  • Prognosis
  • Research Design
  • Risk Assessment
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Watchful Waiting / ethics*