Race is Underreported in Multiple Myeloma Clinical Trials

A review of clinical trials for multiple myeloma (MM) showed that the racial composition of study cohorts is frequently not reported and that racial minorities are consistently under-enrolled in these trials.

Despite survival gains for MM in recent years, racial minorities benefit less from treatment improvements. This is partially due to the underrepresentation of these groups in clinical trials.

Researchers from the University of Kansas Cancer Center and other institutions conducted a systematic literature review of randomized, controlled trials (RCTs) for MM to assess reporting and enrollment of racial minorities in these studies. RCTs from 2005 through 2019 were considered for inclusion.

“RCTs were chosen because they were most likely to affect patient care and have their findings generalized to a broad population,” the team explained.

In total, 100 RCTs were assessed for this review. The investigators found that of these trials, only 26 reported the racial composition of their entire enrolled cohort. Of 16,452 participants, only 2,612 individuals (16%) were non-white. Reporting of participant race was slightly higher in pharmaceutical-led trials (33%) compared with academic-led trials (18%).

Only nineteen studies reported the number of Black participants enrolled. Among these trials, only 730 of 12,915 patients (6%) were Black.

The percentage of racial minorities enrolled in MM clinical trials remained consistent across the 14-year study period. Non-white participants made up 14.7% of trials between 2005 and 2009, 21.2% of trials between 2010 and 2014, and 13.5% of trials between 2015 and 2019.

“We advocate for increased minority representation on trials and transparent reporting of proportions of such patients on RCTs to provide meaningful counselling and equitable care for all,” the researchers concluded.

This study was published in The Lancet Haematology.