Cancer patients most likely to sign up for clinical trials during their treatment include people of color, those with higher incomes and those who are younger, a new study finds.
"This study informs our understanding of who is participating in cancer clinical trials," said study author Dr. Lincoln Sheets, an assistant research professor at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, in Columbia.
In clinical trials, people help test new drugs or medical devices or new uses for approved drugs.
For this study, Sheets and his team analyzed data from an annual telephone survey that gathers health information from U.S. adults.
Of the more than 20,000 respondents who were asked if they took part in a clinical trial as part of their cancer treatment, 6.5% said yes. That included 11% of Hispanic respondents, just over 8% of Black respondents and 6% of white respondents.
The researchers also found that survey participants who were young and those whose household income topped the national median of $50,000 a year were more likely to enroll. (Median means half earned more, half less.)
"We found people of color were more likely to participate in cancer clinical trials than white cancer patients when controlling for other demographic factors," Sheets said in a university news release. "It could be that in previous studies, the effects of income, sex or age were muddling the true picture."
The findings help confirm that disparities exist in cancer clinical trials, indicating deficiencies as the system stands, Sheets said.
"We must lessen financial barriers to participation, improve logistical accessibility of cancer clinical trials and loosen restrictions on the enrollment of patients with comorbidities," he suggested.
Sheets said that improving access to transportation, child care and health insurance would remove some of the barriers to participating.
The findings were recently published in the journal Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications.
The American Cancer Society has more on cancer clinical trials.
SOURCE: University of Missouri School of Medicine, news release, April 28, 2021