Access for All: Bringing Diversity to Clinical Trials
Timely screening, cutting-edge therapy and widespread health care messaging have made a dent in cancer mortality rates in the United States. This, however, isn’t true for all communities.
Though cancer is an equal-opportunity disease, some groups shoulder a disproportionate burden. The reasons ethnic and racial minorities are at increased risk of developing — and dying from — certain cancers are many: genetics, of course, but economic, environmental, even educational and psychosocial factors also come into play. It’s no surprise that society’s inequities are reflected in our health care system.
At Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, physician-scientists are studying why certain populations are unevenly affected by particular cancers. This effort is part of a concerted, system-wide mission to level the playing field.
“Achieving health equity is a goal for most scientists and clinicians in cancer research,” said Erin Kobetz, Ph.D., M.P.H, vice provost for research at the University of Miami. “But at Sylvester, it’s an integral part of our mission. It’s part of who we are.”
Dr. Kobetz believes Sylvester is uniquely situated to be a leader in this mission. As part of the Miller School of Medicine, it makes its home in a geographic area with large Hispanic and Black populations. South Florida is also a gateway for people coming from Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe, and it can claim an impressive diversity along ethnic, sexual and socioeconomic lines.
“We are the future demographic of the U.S.,” Dr. Kobetz added. “We are truly well positioned to ask questions today that the rest of the nation will likely not even be able to conceptualize until future tomorrows.”