Adverse event burden score—a versatile summary measure for cancer clinical trials

Jennifer G. Le-Rademacher, Shauna Hillman, Elizabeth Storrick, Michelle R. Mahoney, Peter F. Thall, Aminah Jatoi, Sumithra J. Mandrekar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This article introduces the adverse event (AE) burden score. The AE burden by treatment cycle is a weighted sum of all grades and AEs that the patient experienced in a cycle. The overall AE burden score is the total AE burden the patient experienced across all treatment cycles. AE data from two completed Alliance multi-center randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trials, with different AE profiles (NCCTG 97-24-51: 176 patients, and A091105: 83 patients), were utilized for illustration. Results of the AE burden score analyses corroborated the trials’ primary results. In 97-24-51, the overall AE burden for patients on the treatment arm was 2.2 points higher than those on the placebo arm, with a higher AE burden for patients who went off treatment early due to AE. Similarly, in A091105, the overall AE burden was 1.6 points higher on the treatment arm. On the placebo arms, the AE burden in 97-24-51 remained constant over time; and increased in later cycles in A091105, likely attributable to the increase in disease morbidity. The AE burden score enables statistical comparisons analogous to other quantitative endpoints in clinical trials, and can readily accommodate different trial settings, diseases, and treatments, with diverse AE profiles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3251
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Adverse event
  • Adverse event burden score
  • Clinical trials
  • Safety profile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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