Five years of public relations work and a commitment by the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) in Philadelphia to increase the enrollment of black patients in clinical cancer trials more than doubled the percentage of participants, increasing access and treatment for one Group with improved historically low representation in cancer research. For example, the percentage of patients participating in a clinical treatment study increased from 12% to 24%. Significant increases were also seen in non-therapeutic interventional and non-interventional studies.
The results were published in a summary to be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting on June 5th.
“A key goal of the Abramson Cancer Center is to serve and involve our community – and that includes improving access to clinical trials for all patients,” said senior author Robert H. Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, director of the Center and Vice President of Cancer Programs in the University of Pennsylvania Health Care System. “By matching the number of black cancer patients we care for with the number of patients in our studies, we can help provide more equitable care for the community, bridge differences, and maintain trust. More work needs to be done to improve access to and inclusion of minority groups, and the impact of these outreach and engagement efforts is an important step forward. “
Despite making up 13.4% of the US population, only 5% of black cancer patients participate in clinical trials. Of 8,700 patients nationwide who participated in studies related to the 28 oncology drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2018 and 2019, only 4% were black, according to FDA Drug Trial Snapshot reports.
In 2014, black residents made up 19% of the population and 16.5% of cancer cases in the 12 counties around Philadelphia, but only 11.1% of patients at the Abramson Cancer Center were black. The percentage of black participants who flowed into treatment, non-therapeutic interventional, and non-interventional studies at the center were 12.2%, 8.3% and 13%, respectively.
To address these gaps, the center has set up a community guidance and engagement program that includes culturally tailored marketing strategies. new partnerships with religious organizations that serve black communities in running educational events; Establish a community advisory board and community education forums; Pilot Programs with Lyft and Ride Health to Remove Transportation Barriers; Educate patients about cancer and clinical trials through nurse navigators. The center also required that a minority demarcation plan be in place for each protocol in order to obtain approval and that access to language-specific informed consent and translation services for patients be improved.
By 2018, the researchers found that the percentage of black patients observed at the center had risen to 16.2%. The percentage of black participants who were in treatment, non-therapeutic interventional, and non-interventional studies were 23.9%, 33.1%, and 22.5%, respectively – or 1.7 to 4 fold increases.
Edited by Gary Cramer