By Robert Preidt
FRIDAY July 10, 2020 (HealthDay News) – US government-funded clinical trials for new cancer treatments have more black participants than those led by drug companies, but black patients are still underrepresented in studies on cancer, the researchers said.
The SWOG Cancer Research Network team analyzed data from 358 clinical trials – 85 trials in the pharmaceutical industry and 273 SWOG trials. They included nearly 94,000 patients who were treated for 15 types of cancer, registered between 2003 and 2018.
Three percent of patients in industrial trials were black, compared to 9% in SWOG trials, although black patients represent 12% of American patients with 15 cancers, according to the study.
The SWOG Cancer Research Network is part of the National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) of the National Cancer Institute in the United States.
“This study confirmed that black cancer patients are severely underrepresented in drug-sponsored trials, with less than 1 in 4 of the expected number enrolled,” said study author Joseph Unger, SWOG biostatistician.
“The representation of blacks in industrial trials was also much lower than that of NCTN trials, with only one black patient enrolled for every three enrolled in NCTN trials,” he noted in a SWOG press release.
The results were recently published in the journal JNCI cancer spectrum and were presented at a virtual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research last week.
According to Unger, assessing the representation of black patients in clinical trials is a critical need that can guide trial policies.
“Trials are an important way – sometimes the only way – for cancer patients to receive potentially revolutionary drugs. Everyone can get cancer, so everyone should have the same access to experimental cancer treatments,” said he declared.
“In addition, it is very important from a scientific point of view to evaluate new treatments in patients that reflect the demographics of the general cancer population,” said Unger.
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