Assessing Effects on Long-term Survival after Early Termination of Randomized Trials

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In this paper we present an approach to using historical control data to augment information from a randomized controlled clinical trial, when it is not possible to continue the control regimen to obtain the most reliable and valid assessment of long term treatment effects. Using an adjustment procedure to the historical control data, we investigate a method of estimating the long term survival function for the clinical trial control group and for evaluating the long term treatment effect. The suggested method is simple to interpret, and particularly motivated in clinical trial settings when ethical considerations preclude the long term follow-up of placebo controls. A simulation study reveals that the bias in parameter estimates that arises in the setting of group sequential monitoring will be attenuated when long term historical control information is used in the proposed manner. Data from the first and second National Wilms' Tumor studies are used to illustrate the method.

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