The contribution of randomized trials to the cure of haematological disorders from Bradford Hill onwards


Correspondence: Dr Robert K. Hills, Department of Haematology, Cardiff University School of Medicine, Heath Park, Cardiff CF14 4XN, UK. E-mail:


It is now 75 years since the publication of Sir Austin Bradford Hill's classic textbook on Medical Statistics, and half a century since the formation of the Medical Research Council Working Party on Leukaemia. In the intervening period, trials in haematological malignancies have been at the forefront of cancer research, both in the proportion of patients recruited, and in the adoption of novel trial designs. In this paper, the principles propounded by Hill for reliable evaluation of new treatments are considered and placed in the context of the development and evaluation of novel treatments in the 21st century. Many of the original principles espoused are still highly relevant today, while the emerging heterogeneity of the conditions, both in aetiology and outcome provide their own newer challenges, which are discussed here.