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How Top Institutions Are Working to Reduce Racial Disparities

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September 28, 2020

Why Genetic Underpinnings of Myeloma And Clinical Trials Must Include Black Patients

  • Black patients are chronically underrepresented in clinical trials, despite having a higher myeloma incidence
  • Providers and nonprofit organizations are making an effort to increase awareness of clinical trials
  • Black patients who enroll in clinical studies have similar outcomes as white patients
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“I think we’re probably not as ‘woke’ as we should be as doctors, because we think we’re great at explaining things, which we know we’re not,” Dr. Nina Shah, hematologist-oncologist at UCSF Medical Center, tells SurvivorNet. “It takes a lot of work on our part to rethink how we communicate, but we have to do it.”

Blacks have a two- to three-fold higher incidence of multiple myeloma compared to whites, yet they are significantly underrepresented in clinical trials. Issues with access, eligibility, and a lack of information from providers prevent many Black patients from participating.

Evidence suggests that enrolling more Black patients in studies has real benefits. “Many studies show that, if they have equal access, then they do at least as well as [white patients], and in some cases even possibly better,” says Dr. Robert Orlowski, chairman, ad interim, and director of myeloma at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Both the medical community and nonprofit organizations such as 50 Hoops are making efforts to increase awareness of clinical trials among minority patients. “I think we are looking more vigorously to try to have patients of all different ethnicities on our clinical trials, because we know it really helps them,” adds Dr. Natalie Callander, hematologist-oncologist at UW Health.

See More Highlights from Our Discussion

How Would You Treat a 60-Year-Old Woman with Relapsed Refractory Myeloma?
Weighing the Risks of Multiple Myeloma Therapy in the Time of COVID-19
Isatuximab Combo Offers a New Therapeutic Option to Multiple Myeloma Patients
Belamaf is ‘First-In-Class’ New Therapy for Relapsed/Refractory Myeloma, But Does it Beat Selinexor?
Watch the full event (and get CME credit)