Ovarian Cancer Health Disparities May Be Improved Through Clinical Trial Participation

03/24/18

Participation in clinical trials may help overcome health disparities in the treatment of advanced or recurrent ovarian cancer, according to a presentation at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology’s (SGO) 2018 Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer (March 24-27; New Orleans, LA).

Khilen Patel, MD, Medical College of Georgia, and colleagues evaluated the effect of clinical trial participation on overcoming health disparities (ie, race, distance to cancer center) in 236 patients with ovarian cancer from January 2004 through June 2017. Patients were treated at the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University (Augusta, GA), one of the minority National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Programs. Approximately 40-45 percent of the Georgia Cancer Center’s populations are minorities with a gynecologic malignancy, with an average clinical trial participation of 25-30 percent compared with the national average of 6-7 percent of minorities participating in a clinical trial.

All patients had stage 3 or greater epithelial disease. Only some of the patients in the sample participated in clinical trials.

Dr Patel and colleagues reported that for patients enrolled in clinical trials, white patients had an average overall survival (OS) of 53 months compared with 50 months for minority patients. Researchers noted that minority patients participating in clinical trials had increased OS compared with those not enrolled in a clinical trial.

Furthermore, Dr Patel and colleagues evaluated the distance of travel to the Georgia Cancer Center for each patient. Results showed that white patients in closer proximity to the institution had a significantly improved OS compared with minority patients in more rural areas not in close proximity to the institution.

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“This study shows the benefit for clinical trials enrollment for minorities,” said Dr Patel in a press release (March 24, 2018). “It also shows the importance of having programs to allow patients to live close to the center while going through treatment.”

Dr Patel continued: “Our study is evidence that no one should be afraid of clinical trials and that more attention needs to be placed on enrollment. Professional organizations like SGO and physicians need to emphasize the importance of enrollment in clinical trials to improve outcomes for our patients.”—Zachary Bessette