Hem/Onc Round-up: Racial Disparities Persist in Pancreatic Cancer Trials, and More

Each week on DocWire News, editors bring you the latest news and research in hematology and oncology. Here are this week’s top headlines:

Racial Disparities Persist in Pancreatic Cancer Trials

Diversity within pancreatic cancer clinical trials has not improved over the past 15 years, according to a new study. Overall, only 8% of total participants were Black and 6% of participants were Hispanic. Asian patients accounted for 2% of trial enrollment, and Indigenous American patients made up 0.3% of trial enrollment.

“If we don’t have good diversity in clinical trials, how will we ever know whether we have certain drugs that work better in some populations than others?” said study senior author Jose Trevino, MD, surgeon-in-chief at Massey Cancer Center. “We could be throwing away a really good treatment option for racial and ethnic minority patients.”

Diversity in Pancreatic Cancer Clinical Trials Remains Low

Cell Therapy May Improve Immunotherapy Outcomes in NSCLC

In other news, researchers from Moffit Cancer Center conducted a phase 1 clinical trial evaluating tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy plus the checkpoint inhibitor nivolumab for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Eleven of 16 patients demonstrated tumor regression, and the treatment was found to be safe, with ≤17% severe toxicity.

“These results really give hope to adding cell therapy to the armamentarium for treatment of lung cancer. The TILs give the immune system a boost by providing more T cells to mount an attack, and the checkpoint inhibitor prevents the tumor from inactivating the T cells that infiltrate the tumor,” said Eric Haura, MD, associate center director of Clinical Science at Moffitt.

Checkpoint Inhibitors Plus Cell Therapy for NSCLC Reduces Tumor Progression

Marijuana Use Among Cancer Patients

Despite the growing legalization and social acceptance of marijuana, its use is still lower among cancer patients, according to a new study. Researchers analyzed data from nearly 20,000 people over a span of four years and found that marijuana use peaked at 9% for cancer patients, compared to 14% among people with no cancer history.

“Even when we looked at whether someone used cannabis over the four years of observation and we control for things like age and race, cancer patients are still not increasing their use over time like the general population,” said study lead author Bernard Fuemmeler, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate director for population science and interim co-leader of the Cancer Prevention and Control research program at VCU Massey Cancer.

Marijuana Use is Lower in Cancer Patients

Dermatologist-Led Exam May Catch Missed Skin Cancers

Dermatologist-performed total body skin examinations (TBSE) identify numerous cutaneous malignancies that might otherwise remain undiagnosed, according to a study. The researchers found that of the 1,563 biopsy-proven cutaneous malignancies, 51% were first identified by a dermatologist on TBSE, while 48.9% were identified by the patient or the referring provider.

“Dermatologists need to take the opportunity to look over the patient’s entire body, even when the appointment is just for a suspicious lesion,” a coauthor said in a statement. “And patients need to request one in case the doctor doesn’t suggest it.”

Fewer Cancers Might Be Missed With Full-Body Skin Examinations