New Brunswick, N.J., October 1, 2023 – Researchers are working to improve outcomes for Black women with breast cancer – including through increased participation in clinical trials, which helps find better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. Coral Omene, MD, PhD, program director of Breast Cancer Disparities Research and medical oncologist in the Breast Oncology Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, shares why breast cancer clinical trials need to include more black women.
For Black women, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and has surpassed lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer death in this population, according to the American Cancer Society.
Black women continue to experience disparities in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, leading to increased mortality of up to 41 percent higher than white women.
Black women are significantly underrepresented in clinical trials. The reasons for this are multi-factorial, including social, economic, structural factors, and communication and access issues.
Diversity matters in breast cancer research. Different populations can respond differently to therapies including differences in side effects, therefore, clinical trials for breast cancer that include those specific populations are important. Ensuring people from diverse backgrounds participate in clinical trials is key to advancing health equity.
Diversity in clinical trials reduces bias, promotes social justice and health equity, and produces more innovative science, says the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
Connecting Black women with clinical trials
Rutgers Cancer Institute continually works to increase clinical trial awareness and enrollment of Black women with breast cancer. Efforts include tailored patient education; advocacy and outreach; patient navigation; and physician engagement and outreach. Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and RWJBarnabas Health, the state’s leading cancer program and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center is committed to diversity and inclusivity in cancer clinical trials. Learn more: https://www.cinj.org/minority-representation-clinical-trials-critical.
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