Editor’s note: It’s National Diversity Day, and as such, we are republishing this article about the importance of diversity in clinical trial participation.
One of the most important topics of conversation around clinical trials is patient participation. When looking at the national enrollment rate, only around 4 percent of pancreatic cancer patients are participating in trials. This number is far too low, especially for the world’s toughest cancer.
Pancreatic cancer patients who participate in clinical research have better outcomes. Every treatment available today was approved through a clinical trial. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network strongly recommends clinical trials at diagnosis and during every treatment decision.
In the fight against pancreatic cancer, clinical trials often provide the best treatment options, and they give patients early access to cutting-edge treatments that can lead to progress in research, improved treatment options and better outcomes.
Without increased enrollment, it will be very challenging to approve new and better treatment options. This impact is particularly important for pancreatic cancer patients who are part of an ethnic or racial minority group.
I’m In, a campaign that encourages diversity in clinical trials, highlights an eye-opening statistic: “Despite comprising 13 percent of the United States population, African Americans make up only 5 percent of clinical trial participants. Hispanics represent 17 percent of the United States population, but only 1 percent of clinical trial participants.”
The highest incidence rate for pancreatic cancer occurs in Black Americans, which can be up to a staggering 61 percent over other ethnic and racial groups.1 The pancreatic cancer community also sees a higher incidence among Ashkenazi Jews, possibly due to mutations involving the breast cancer (BRCA) genes that are found in about 2.5 percent of individuals of this background.
Every pancreatic cancer tumor is different and treatments may work differently based on tumor biology. Studies show treatments selected based on tumor biology may increase their success.
The I’m In campaign explains why the patient’s ethnic and racial background is also so important for clinical trials, stating, “According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), increased diversity in clinical trials could help researchers find better ways to fight diseases that disproportionately impact certain populations, and may be important for the safe and effective use of new therapies.”
During National Pancreatic Cancer Clinical Trials Awareness Month, and throughout the year, join us to Demand Better by spreading awareness about the importance of clinical trials and about the critical role of patient participation.
1Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, Miller D, Bishop K, Kosary CL, Yu M, Ruhl J, Tatalovich Z, Mariotto A, Lewis DR, Chen HS, Feuer EJ, Cronin KA (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2014, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2014/, based on November 2016 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2017.