The effect of measuring error on the results of therapeutic trials in advanced cancer

Cancer. 1976 Jul;38(1):388-94. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(197607)38:1<388::aid-cncr2820380156>;2-a.


In this study, 16 experienced oncologists each measured 12 simulated tumor masses employing their usual clinical methods. Unknown to the oncologists, two pairs of these tumors were identical in size. This permitted a total of 64 measurement comparisons of the same investigator measuring the same size mass and 1920 comparisons of different investigators measuring the same size mass. If a 50% reduction in the product of perpendicular diameters is accepted as a criterion, the objective response rate due to measuring error alone was 7.8% by the same investigator and 6.8% by different investigators. If a 25% reduction criterion is used, the respective "placebo" response rates were 19% and 25%. In the clinical setting it is recommended that the 50% reduction criterion be employed and that the investigator should anticipate an objective response rate of 5 to 10% due to human error in tumor measurement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / pathology*