An initiative launched today encourages newly-diagnosed African American cancer patients in Maryland to consider clinical trials as the first-line option, not the last resort.
The effort is spearheaded by Advancing Cancer Treatment (ACT), a philanthropic initiative that supports patients’ access to the best in modern cancer treatments.
“Too few African American cancer patients participate in clinical trials, which slows down the progress of science and misses opportunities for patients to receive cutting-edge treatment,” said Dr. Nancy Dawson, founder and first president of a consortium of volunteer oncologists working to promote clinical trials called Genito-Urinary Multidisciplinary DC Regional Oncology Project or GUMDROP.
While African Americans suffer disproportionately from certain cancers, they are underrepresented in clinical trials. Overall, less than 5 percent of cancer patients participate in clinical trials. For patients who don’t participate in trials, 80 percent say it’s because their doctors didn’t tell them the option exists.
Cynthia Heath, 56, of Bowie, MD., is urging other African American patients to participate in clinical trials. Diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, Heath credits clinical trials with extending her life when doctors initially told her she had a year to live.
“Clinical trials are helping more patients survive and experience improved quality of life for many types of cancer,” said Dr. Adam Metwalli, president of GUMDROP and Chief, Division of Urology, Department of Surgery at Howard University Hospital in Washington.
Advancing Cancer Treatment (ACT) is recognizing Leadership Award winners in a series of public awareness advertisements running in June in The Washingtonian and Baltimore Magazine. The ads are intended to reward those progressive physicians who are actively supporting their patients’ access to the most advanced options for improved care, including clinical trials for prostate, bladder and kidney cancer. ACT is funded by foundations committed to improving the cancer patient experience and speeding up cancer research to benefit cancer patients now and in the future.
Advancing Cancer Treatment is a philanthropic initiative that supports patients’ access to the best in modern cancer treatments. The ACT Leadership Awards recognize doctors and other medical professionals who help patients access the best treatment options in modern cancer care through their support of clinical trials and their knowledge and effectiveness in serving their patients.