Cancer Treatment Trial Enrollment Low, Stagnant Among Black Young Adults

During the 15-year period from 2000 to 2015, less than 3% of Black adolescents or young adults (AYA) aged 20-39 years with cancer enrolled in cancer treatment trials (CTT), according to a recent study.

“We found that compared to Black children with cancer, Black AYAs, and particularly male Black AYAs are underrepresented on CTT in the U.S.,” researchers wrote.

The study used data from the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program and the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program to look at enrollment of Black patients with cancer from 2000-2007 and 2008-2015.

From 2000 through 2015, 46,120 children, 34,348 AYAs, and 334,296 older adults with a single reported race enrolled on NCI-sponsored CTTs. In total, 35,600 patients were Black; 10.6% were Black children and 11.3% were Black AYAs.

Black AYAs had a fourfold increase in cancer incidence compared with Black children. Despite that, 1,004 more children than AYAs enrolled on CTTs. There was less than 3% enrollment among Black AYAs in each age group except ages 15-19 years, where enrollment was 13.2%.

Looking at trends across the study period, the proportion of Black AYAs enrolled on CTTs did not increase between 2000 and 2015. Enrollment was particularly low among Black male AYAs with a decreasing proportion with increasing age.

“Improving the CTT enrollment rates of Black AYAs could address overarching concerns of health disparities, racial inequities, and access to cancer care barriers among these high-risk populations,” the researchers wrote.