Patients Say “Yes” to Trials

When U.S. cancer patients are offered enrollment in clinical trials, they enroll more than half of the time, according to a study published Oct. 6 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The rate of agreement to participate was similar across white, Black, Asian and Hispanic patients. The researchers reviewed data from 35 studies on clinical trial enrollment conducted between 2000 and 2020. “These findings dramatically underscore the willingness of cancer patients to participate in a trial if one is offered,” the authors of the study write. “The findings also stand in stark contrast to the commonly cited statistic that only 5% of adult cancer patients participate in trials, a statistic which fails to reflect the many structural and clinical hurdles that stand in the way of trial participation for most patients.”

Exposing Breast Cancer Disparities

Jessica Florence first saw a doctor about a lump in her breast in 2015 when she was in her early 20s, but it wasn’t until the following year and her third doctor visit that she was diagnosed with stage IIIA breast cancer. Later, when Florence experienced renewed symptoms, she again felt she was not being taken seriously. She was ultimately diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. In an article published Oct. 5 in Elle, writer Chloe Hall talks about the disproportionate impact of breast cancer on Black women like Florence. She notes that Black women are often younger at diagnosis than white women and that they are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. Black women also have a higher rate of breast cancer mortality than white women. “Breast cancer is rarely found in someone of Florence’s age, and that likely was a factor in doctors dismissing her symptoms,” Hall writes. “But systemic medical racism, often manifested in doctors’ unwillingness to hear Black patients’ concerns, is also crushingly pervasive—and can be deadly.”

Cancer Patients and Loved Ones Share COVID-19 Impacts

Each year, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Harris Poll survey Americans on their opinions related to cancer. For the 2020 National Cancer Opinion Survey​, conducted between July and September and released Oct. 1, the organizations included questions about the impact of COVID-19. More than 80% of the respondents with current or past cancer said they were limiting contact with others due to COVID-19, and nearly half agreed with the statement “I have had to make a lot of sacrifices in my daily life because of my heightened risk for COVID-19.” The proportion of people who felt they had made significant sacrifices rose to nearly 60% for people with active cancer and more than 60% for Black cancer patients. Meanwhile, 55% of family members or loved ones of people with cancer said they had limited contact with the person with cancer due to concern about infecting them with the coronavirus.