Enhancing Awareness and Participation of Black Breast Cancer Patients in Clinical Trials

Rutgers Cancer Institute Researcher Awarded V Foundation for Cancer Research Grant

Coral OmeneNew Brunswick, N.J. July 18, 2022 – Coral Omene, MD, PhD, medical oncologist in the Stacy Goldstein Breast Cancer Center at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center together with RWJBarnabas Health, has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the V Foundation for Cancer Research in partnership with ESPN to increase clinical trial awareness and enrollment of Black women with breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Black women, with an estimated 36,260 new cases expected to be diagnosed in 2022. While there has been an overall decline in breast cancer deaths over the last 30 years, there is a persistent and significant mortality gap between Black women and White women. These differences are multifactorial but are in part a result of underrepresentation of Black patients in clinical trials, which provide the highest level of evidence in evaluating the safety and efficacy of new cancer treatments.

“Clinical trials, which are a vital step in bringing new cancer therapies to patients, have strikingly low rates of Black female participants, which is a critical, unaddressed public health concern and an important target for intervention,” notes Dr. Omene, who is also a member of the Cancer Health Equity Center of Excellence at Rutgers Cancer Institute and an assistant professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “Ensuring people from diverse backgrounds participate in clinical trials is key to advancing health equity, thus we are grateful to the V Foundation for Cancer Research for its support of this project.”

“Addressing disparities in cancer care, including access to and participation in clinical trials, has long been a priority for Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey together with RWJBarnabas Health,” says Howard S. Hochster, MD, FACP,  associate director for clinical research at Rutgers Cancer Institute and director of oncology research at RWJBarnabas Health. “We are gratified that the V-Foundation has recognized the critical work Dr. Omene has been doing in this area. This project has the potential for significant impact for Black women with breast cancer and will only serve to improve future clinical trials by providing better data across populations. We are sure through their grant support we will have better means of treating our minority patients more appropriately by understanding the specific needs and cancer biology.”

The efforts in this funded proposal to increase clinical trial participation among Black breast cancer patients will include tailored patient education; advocacy and outreach; patient navigation; and physician engagement and outreach. Importantly, notes Dr. Omene, this project will serve as a guide for increasing clinical trial participation among Black patients with other cancers that disproportionately affect this population, including colorectal, lung and prostate cancers.

The project period runs through June 2023.
For journalists – contact:
Krista Didzbalis 
Media Relations Specialist