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Effort seeks to enroll more Black patients in lung cancer trials

Mar. 25, 2021, 9:12 AM


by Tom Wilemon

Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center are part of a multi-institutional study that aims to improve participation in lung cancer clinical trials among Black patients from Southern states.

The GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer (GO2 Foundation) announced Thursday the launch of Studying Trial Determinants of Success (STRIDES), which has received funding from Genentech and Bristol Myers Squibb.

The study collaborators also include researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University.

Although both Black men and women are more likely to die from lung cancer than any other racial group, they are underrepresented in clinical trials.

“Because of the lack of diversity in lung cancer clinical trials, it can be difficult to fully understand new ways of treating cancer across all patients,” said Laurie Fenton Ambrose, co-founder, president and CEO of GO2 Foundation. “STRIDES will help us address the ongoing health care disparities that have kept patients in racial and ethnic groups out of the process of developing new treatments and allow us to work toward better outcomes.”

Melinda Aldrich, PhD, MPH, associate professor of Medicine, Thoracic Surgery and Biomedical Informatics, and Christine Lovly, MD, PhD, associate professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, and Ingram Professor of Cancer Research, are the lead Vanderbilt researchers on the initiative.

“The power of this four-way partnership among GO2 Foundation, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham and Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University is unique,” said Lovly, co-leader of the Translational Research and Interventional Oncology Research Program at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and chair of GO2 Foundation’s Scientific Leadership Board.

“It brings the patient-facing expertise of GO2 Foundation together with a multidisciplinary team of leading research-ers in medical oncology, community engagement and health disparities. The STRIDES partnership also enables access to three distinct catchment areas in the South with diverse populations, which will allow us to identify strategies both common between and unique to the individual communities,” Lovly said.

Initially, STRIDES will survey and interview a range of people who play a role in the clinical trial process — including patients, physicians and researchers — to learn what contributes to decreased participation in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. The study will then use that data to select and pilot evidence-based initiatives to increase participation among Black patients.

“Geographic and racial/ethnic disparities occur in cancer outcomes, including lung cancer,” said Aldrich. “To ensure equity in health outcomes across diverse communities, it is time we fix the lack of racial/ethnic and geographic diversity in clinical trials. This strategic partnership and focus on lung cancer in the South represent an important step forward to ensure strategies that work for all populations.”

In the U.S., participation in any type of cancer clinical trial by people of all races and ethnicities is about 8%, according to a study published in 2019 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Blacks account for a fraction of the small number of cancer patients who enroll in clinical trials — only 6%, according to a study published in 2013 in Cancer, the journal of the American Cancer Society.

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