Lung cancer clinical trials lack racial diversity

On Behalf of | Apr 5, 2022 | lung cancer

A diagnosis of lung cancer can be devastating. For people whose cancer is in the advanced stages, the best way to access the latest treatments may be to join a clinical trial. 

These trials not only allow patients to receive cutting-edge drugs and other treatments they couldn’t otherwise get. They help researchers do the testing necessary to bring drugs to the market where they can be widely available for physicians to prescribe to their patients.

Why diversity is needed in clinical trials

To be most effective, clinical trials should have a diverse group of participants. That’s the only way medical professionals can determine things like whether a particular drug may have risks for women that it might not for men. They may find out that a drug isn’t as effective in people under a certain age than those who are older. They may see variations based on race and other characteristics.

Unfortunately, there’s been a lack of racial diversity in lung cancer trials. Specifically, only a small percentage of the participants have been Black. This lack of representation even prompted the American Lung Association to have an “Awareness, Trust and Action” campaign this year. It’s aimed at getting Black lung cancer patients to talk with their doctors about getting into a clinical trial.

Without diversity, not everyone is benefitting equally from new treatments

One official with the American Lung Association says, “Black Americans face many barriers to accessing clinical trials, but the American Lung Association is committed to ensuring education is not one of them.” An executive with Bristol Myers Squibb, which is one of the campaign’s sponsors, adds, “Education is an essential component to improving diversity in clinical trial enrollment to ensure that all people affected by cancer can equally benefit from the latest science and treatments.”

One woman who is part of the campaign knows first-hand the benefit of seeking out a clinical trial. She had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. Now, with a daily pill, she says her cancer is under control.

If you or a loved one is dealing with lung cancer, it’s crucial to be aware of and explore all of the options for treatment. That may include clinical trials. If the lung cancer was caused by asbestos exposure, you may be able to get compensation that will help you get the best possible treatment as you and your family tackle the disease.