A new report showed the ethnic and racial disparities in the patient population of oncology clinical trials.
Researchers spent December 2020 to April 2021 examining all United States-based clinical trials involving breast, prostate, lung and colorectal cancers on the Clinicaltrials.gov website. They found 93 studies with 5,867 enrollees.
Of those participants, non-Hispanic white (82.3%) was the most common ethnicity:
- 10% were Black
- 4.1% were Asian
White enrollees were overrepresented in the studies, while Black, Hispanic and American Indian people were underrepresented.
What Does This Data Mean for Mesothelioma Clinical Trials?
Mesothelioma clinical trials regularly open testing new and potentially life-saving therapies. The issue is only 2,500 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States. Of those, a small percentage qualify for a clinical trial.
Unlike breast cancer, prostate cancer or lung cancer, mesothelioma has a small sample pool for these tests. Many early phase trials cap out at just a handful of participants. The biggest include a few hundred but take many years to complete – longer than for other cancers.
It’s important to provide opportunities for minority races and ethnicities to enroll in clinical studies. Some studies show that minority races – particularly Black and Hispanic patients – have shorter survival times. One reason is lack of access to quality medical care, sometimes due to inability to afford high costs of treatment.
According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the 2018 median household income for black families in America was $41,361, the lowest among the race demographics listed. The median household income for Hispanic families was $51,450 and for white families was $70,642.
Many black mesothelioma patients cannot pay for surgery or receive care from one of the top mesothelioma doctors. Enrollment in a clinical trial can help, as the trial’s sponsor usually pays for the study costs.
These trials provide treatment options not available at local hospitals or with medical oncologists. Increasing diversity allows all individuals to benefit from cancer research breakthroughs.
Sources & Author
- Racial and Ethnic Disparities Among Participants in Precision Oncology Clinical Studies. JAMA Network. Retrieved from: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2785786. Accessed: 01/19/2021.