Breaking Down Barriers: The Drive for Diversity in Clinical Trials Goes Full Speed

CURE, Hematology Special Issue (March), Volume 1, Issue 1

A CANCER DIAGNOSIS COMES in all shapes and sizes, and so do the patients it affects. In fact, we know that certain cancer types affect a specific race or gender more greatly. Yet, as a whole, there is still a lack of diversity in clinical trials.

A CANCER DIAGNOSIS COMES in all shapes and sizes, and so do the patients it affects. In fact, we know that certain cancer types affect a specific race or gender more greatly. Yet, as a whole, there is still a lack of diversity in clinical trials.

Physicians are not presenting the opportunity to patients, and patients are not asking their physicians. Numbers show that less than 5 percent of all adult patients with cancer enter clinical trials, and the recruitment challenge is even greater among African-Americans and other ethnic groups. So, how can the diversity gap be closed?

At the recent annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in San Diego, California, a forum focused on potentially beneficial strategies — specifically in the multiple myeloma setting.

In this special issue of CURE®, one feature focuses on what was presented at that forum. This included strategies such as building relationships with people who are known and trusted in the community, communicating with patients to help them understand how they could benefit and bringing more national awareness to the issue.

One of our feature stories explores the journey of patients given tyrosine kinase inhibitors or TKIs, which have been remarkably effective in halting chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). For many patients, these drugs can be the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, that means some may need to be on them for their entire lives — something that can take its toll on a person’s body and wallet.

You will meet a patient with CML, who stopped taking the TKI Sprycel, and did so safely and effectively. But stopping these drugs may not be best, and safe, for everyone. We dig deeper into the advantages and disadvantages of coming off TKIs from both the patient and physician standpoint.

Also in this issue are conference highlights, updates in research and a spotlight on an advocacy group that is working to delete blood cancer. DKMS, an international nonprofit organization, works to connect potential donors with patients who need bone marrow transplants. To date, it has registered more than 7 million potential donors.

We hope you find this special issue helpful in your quest to understand what lies ahead when it comes to treatment for blood cancers. As always, thank you for reading.

MIKE HENNESSY, SR.

Chairman and CEO