University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) physicians are seeking to alert the research community that more Hispanics are needed in cancer clinical trials in order to avoid compromised health equality in drug discovery, development, and research.
In fact, the researchers recently quoted in a UTHSCSA news release believe that increased participation from patients and volunteers from a hispanic ethnic background would provide would provide a more diverse mix of study participants and enrich the development process of new treatments.
Specifically, the call for action among the research community came from a paper published in the section “Comments and Controversies” of the Journal of Clinical Oncology by three physicians from UTHSC at San Antonio.
After examining clinical trial participation, Ian M. Thompson Jr., M.D., director of the Health Science Center’s Cancer Therapy & Research Center, Anand Karnad, M.D., CTRC chief of the division of hematology/oncology at the CTRC, and Alberto Parra, M.D., internal medicine resident at the UT Health Science Center, appealed to their peers to recruit more Hispanic patients into their research studies.
“Fundamentally, in the most recent published cancer clinical trials, either the number and proportion of Hispanics are not reported or are far below their actual representation in the national population,” said Dr. Thompson.
Hispanics are the fastest-growing demographic group in the United States, registering higher rates of cancer incidence compared to other groups, particularly with cancers of the cervix, stomach, and liver. In addition, hispanics also suffer from significant health disparities and a low enrollment of Hispanic individuals in cancer clinical trials, which on average only account for 3.9 percent of study participants.
In San Antonio alone, 58 percent of the residents are Hispanic. In the whole region of the South Texas, the number rises to 68%. The Cancer Therapy and Research Center (CTRC) at UTHSCSA, which is part of the National Cancer Institute and designated to serve the South Texas region, has sought to increase the participation of the Hispanic community in clinical research and is working on an actionable strategy.
As part of this effort, CTRC studied ways to diminish barriers to Hispanic patients and developed a minority recruitment toolbox, which includes bilingual forms and the help of a bilingual coordinator of minority programs. In 2012, they achieved a 45 percent participation rate of Hispanics in clinical trials out of a total of 822 patients.
“For institutions like ours that serve a ‘minority-majority’ population, it’s a major responsibility for us to ensure adequate representation so that we can tell our patients how they can best be treated and how we can reduce the disparities of this rapidly growing population,” Dr. Thompson said.