Emily Rencsok, MD/PhD Student, on Disparities in Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials

June 11, 2020

Rencsok and colleagues found that the proportion of white participants in the clinical trials studied has primarily remained above 80% since 1990.

In an interview with CancerNetwork®, Emily Rencsok, an MD/PhD student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, discussed the findings of a recent analysis of 59 prostate cancer clinical trials based in North America and Europe.

Overall, Rencsok and colleagues looked at 72 global phase 3 and 4 prevention, screening, and treatment clinical trials for patients with prostate cancer that enrolled patients between 1987 and 2016. Of the 72 trials, 59 had race data available; corresponding with a total of approximately 844,000 participants.

When the researchers analyzed the diversity of enrollment over time, they found that the proportion of black men who were enrolled in prostate cancer clinical trials decreased from 11.3% in 1995 to 2.8% in 2014. Even further, the investigators found that the proportion of white participants in these clinical trials has primarily remained above 80% since 1990.

“When trials are primarily enrolling non-Hispanic white men, you’re learning really well how diseases work in this population and what treatments work best for them and different diagnostic and screening practices, and you’re leaving out entire subgroups of populations that could have completely different experiences,” explained Rencsok.

Though changes need to be implemented on both state and federal government levels, Rencsok also indicated that patients should become educated on these issues so that they may advocate for themselves and their peers.

“It’s really important for patients, too, who go to community health centers or other centers, hospital systems or whatever that are generally supporting their patient population, it’s really important for them to advocate for themselves, and specifically ask their providers about clinical trials that are offered,” Rencsok said.

This segment comes from the CancerNetwork® portion of the MJH Life Sciences National Broadcast, airing daily on all MJH Life Sciences channels.

Reference:

Rencsok EM, Bazzi LA, McKay RR, et al. Diversity of Enrollment in Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials: Current Status and Future Directions. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-19-1616.