According to the American Cancer Society, Blacks with cancer in the United States experience more illness, worse outcomes and premature death when compared with other races with cancer. Blacks also face greater challenges in preventing, detecting, treating and surviving cancer, experiencing the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial/ethnic group for most cancers in the U.S.
Lourdes Hospital is working to change those grim statistics in Western Kentucky. It is one of 75 research sites that applied to and was invited by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) invited to take part in a pilot project that aims to increase racial and ethnic diversity in clinical trial participants.
“Diversity matters in clinical trials,” said Lourdes Hospital Oncology Service Line Director John Montville. “Understanding how a drug works and its potential side effects can differ by ethnic group. By including a wide range of people in clinical trials, we can be more confident about the results those drugs will have for anyone who might need them.”
As part of the pilot program, Lourdes hospital will test a research site self-assessment tool and an implicit bias training program focused on increasing racial and ethnic diversity among clinical trial participants.
"The enthusiastic response and breadth of applications demonstrates how deeply the oncology community is committed to our goal of equity in clinical trials," said ASCO-ACCC Steering Group Co-chair and Association for Clinical Oncology Board Chair Lori J. Pierce, MD, FASTRO, FASCO.
The site self-assessment tool will help research sites conduct an internal assessment of policies, procedures and programs that may impact which patients are screened for and offered a clinical trial, as well as factors impacting subsequent enrollment and retention. Sites taking part in this program will receive recommendations for specific strategies to implement and improve their performance and have the chance to provide feedback and suggested revisions to enhance the tool.
The implicit bias training program will help research sites acknowledge and lessen the impact of implicit bias across research and care teams related to which patients are offered clinical trials and which choose to participate. It is a virtual, curriculum-based program and includes self-directed and interventional components. Participants’ feedback will be used to enhance the training program.
The pilot project began this summer will run through October.
ASCO-ACCC notes that this work is part of an initiative to establish evidence-based practical strategies and solutions to advance a vision where every patient with cancer can participate in research, focusing initially on patients who are Black and/or Hispanic/Latinx.
Lourdes Hospital’s oncology program consists of integrated cancer services, including high quality cancer screening, oncology surgery and medical oncology and hematology programs. Through its affiliation with the University of Kentucky/Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network, Lourdes Hospital offers access to cancer services and clinical trials, along with the ability to provide second opinions and other consultative services available from an academic cancer center. Lourdes Hospital’s program is committed to providing advanced cancer care across the entire spectrum of patient needs, including use of oncology nurse navigation, survivorship services, regional cancer education and support group services, cancer genetics, and more. The program is a regional leader in cancer care.