Participation in clinical trials may overcome health disparities in ovarian cancer

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Sam Guckenberger
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sguckenberger@pcipr.com

Participation in clinical trials may overcome health disparities in ovarian cancer

SGO working to increase enrollment for clinical trials

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

The study evaluated the effect of clinical trial participation on overcoming health disparities such as race and distance to cancer center through January 2004 to June 2017 at Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University in Augusta, GA.

Lead researcher Khilen Patel, MD, at the Medical College of Georgia, said the study showed similar overall survival rates for white and minority patients participating in clinical trials. These survival rates differ significantly from that of white and minority patients not participating in clinical trials.

In the study, the overall survival of patients with stage 3 or greater epithelial ovarian fallopian tube, and peritoneal cancer at the Georgia Cancer Center, one of 12 minority National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Programs (NCORP), were compared in 236 patients, some participating in clinical trials and some not.

For those enrolled in clinical trials, white patients had an average survival of 53 months compared to 50 months for minority patients. “The evidence shows that the minority patients participating in clinical trials had increased overall survival,” Dr. Patel said, compared to those not enrolled in a clinical trial.

At the Georgia Cancer Center, Dr. Patel said that around 40 to 45 percent of the center’s population are minorities with a gynecologic malignancy with an average clinical trial participation of about 25 to 30 percent compared to the national average of only 6 to 7 percent of minorities participating in a clinical trial. In Dr. Patel’s opinion the center’s minority participation makes the center well suited to evaluate the disparities in health care.

His research evaluated the distance to travel to the center for each patient. It found that white patients that lived closer to the institution compared to minorities had a significantly improved overall survival than patients living further away in rural Georgia.

“This study shows the benefit for clinical trials enrollment for minorities, “he said. “It also shows the importance of having programs to allow patients to live close to the center while going through treatment.”

Currently, cancer clinical trials are in crisis. Patient enrollment in phase III clinical trials declined by more than 90 percent from 2011 to 2016.

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

The Society of Gynecologic Oncology is trying to address these issues and recently produced a video explaining the importance of enrollment in clinical trials in gynecologic cancers. To read more, got to SGO’s educational resources at https://www.sgo.org/patients-caregivers-survivors/clinical-trials/.

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The Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) is the premier medical specialty society for health care professionals trained in the comprehensive management of gynecologic cancers. As a 501 (c) (6) organization, the SGO contributes to the advancement of women’s cancer care by encouraging research, providing education, raising standards of practice, advocating for patients and members and collaborating with other domestic and international organizations.