Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) recently announced an initiative to increase minority representation in cancer clinical trials. All future SU2C-supported research grant proposals will now be required to include and address crucial issues related to recruitment and retention of patients from ethnic groups to improve diverse participation in cancer clinical trials.
The announcement was made at the group’s annual Scientific Summit, held late last month in Los Angeles. The lack of diverse participation in cancer clinical trials has been ongoing for decades, largely due to socioeconomic, cultural, trust, and other barriers.
Sung Poblete, PhD, RN
“As one of the leading funders of cancer research, we believe it is our duty to ensure that minority representation in cancer clinical trials is addressed. Now, more than ever, better understanding of the role of biology in cancer treatment, advances in precision treatment, and development of new technologies demands that we also make significant improvements in diverse clinical trial participation,” said SU2C CEO Sung Poblete, PhD, RN, in a news release issued by SU2C.
“We are confident that this initiative will make a significant and meaningful impact to ensure all communities have equal access to potentially life-saving treatments,” she added.
Critical Components Related to Health Equity
Despite an overall decline in U.S. cancer mortality since 1991, not all patients have benefited equally from advances in prevention, early detection, precision medicine, and targeted cancer treatments. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, currently only 4% of clinical trial participants are black, 4% are Hispanic, and 15% are Asian, despite minority groups overall in the United States having both the highest cancer mortality and shortest survival rate for most cancers.
SU2C’s Committee for Health Equity in Cancer Clinical Trials in collaboration with SU2C scientific leadership, has developed procurement language that will now be used to solicit proposals for SU2C Dream Teams, Research Teams, and other grants in the SU2C research portfolio to increase diverse participation in cancer clinical trials. SU2C now requires applicants for funding to include three components related to health equity: an indication of whether the research will address the populations expected to benefit from widespread use of newly developed treatments; patient recruitment and retention plans for including historically underrepresented racial and ethnic populations—such as the need for additional trial sites or mechanisms to reduce barriers to access; and a letter of support from the lead institution’s Chief Diversity Officer, or an equivalent position.
These factors will also be considered both in SU2C’s rigorous selection process, and as part of grant performance evaluation conducted in SU2C’s formal semi-annual reviews.
New Team to Focus on Gastric Cancer
At the Summit, Stand Up To Cancer also introduced the new international SU2C Gastric Cancer Interception Research Team, which includes investigators from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center; University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine; University of Chicago; City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Samsung Medical Center (South Korea).
While gastric cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death worldwide, it is more common in black, Hispanic, and Asian people than in white populations. New ways are needed to detect these cancers early, when they can be successfully treated. This Research Team is conducting intensive studies to identify biomarkers, such as particular bits of DNA, and cells shed from the tumor that circulate in the blood system and indicate the presence of gastric cancer.
Edith A. Perez, MD
“By having Research Teams dedicated to cancers that correlate to, or greatly affect, different racial and ethnic populations, we’ll be able to ensure that strides are being made in cancers that typically affect these populations,” said Edith A. Perez, MD, Chairperson of the SU2C Committee for Health Equity in Cancer Clinical Trials. “Support for these teams further demonstrates our commitment to bringing breakthrough therapies to historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups and improving overall health equity in cancer research.”
For more information, visit StandUpToCancer.org.