The standard 3 + 3 or “modified Fibonacci” up-and-down (MF-UD) method of dose escalation is by far the most used design in dose-finding cancer trials. However, MF-UD has always shown inferior performance when compared with its competitors regarding number of patients treated at optimal doses. A consequence of using less effective designs is that more patients are treated with doses outside the therapeutic window. In June 2012, the U S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rejected the proposal to use Escalation with Overdose Control (EWOC), an established dose-finding method which has been extensively used in FDA-approved first in human trials and imposed a variation of the MF-UD, known as accelerated titration (AT) design. This event motivated us to perform an extensive simulation study comparing the operating characteristics of AT and EWOC. We show that the AT design has poor operating characteristics relative to three versions of EWOC under several practical scenarios. From the clinical investigator’s perspective, lower bias and mean square error make EWOC designs preferable than AT designs without compromising safety. From a patient’s perspective, uniformly higher proportion of patients receiving doses within an optimal range of the true MTD makes EWOC designs preferable than AT designs.
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