The Current State of Lung Cancer and Clinical Trials
In the past decade, lung cancer research has made significant advancements, leading to a nearly 50% increase in the five-year survival rate. However, this progress has not been shared equally, and communities of color, particularly Black Americans, have been disproportionately affected.
While advancements in early detection and treatment have improved the overall five-year survival rate to 25%, this number drops to 20% for communities of color and 18% for Black Americans. Black Americans are also less likely to be diagnosed early, less likely to receive surgical treatment, more likely to not receive any treatment, and less likely to survive five years after diagnosis compared to their white counterparts.
Clinical trials are critical to advancing promising lung cancer treatments, but Black Americans are woefully underrepresented in these studies. The long-standing history of racial bias in healthcare impacts access to care and trust in providers, leading to fewer Black Americans participating in clinical trials. This lack of representation is a significant problem as it limits researchers' understanding of how potential treatments may impact different patient populations.
Unifying Against Health Disparities
It is through generations of diverse and collective awareness between researchers, healthcare professionals, patients, and the community that we are led to a better societal understanding of lung cancer and improved survival rates.
There are over 10,000 lung cancer clinical trials available and run by qualified researchers across the country. Many people have had positive results when they participated in clinical trials and were able to extend their life expectancy and even survive, blazing a trail of treatment options for people with lung cancer for generations to come.
The Lung Association is committed to addressing health disparities and shares the various perspectives of members from the black community. This campaign aims to create awareness surrounding clinical trials, build trust of the healthcare system and encourages individuals to take action regarding their own health.
What are Members of the Community Saying?
Danielle Mitchell, founder and CEO of Black Women in Clinical Research, talks about her grandmother’s battle with cancer. She saw firsthand the lack of diversity in clinical trials early in her career as a clinical researcher and set out on her mission to change this reality and to emphasize the importance of Black Americans participation in clinical trials. "We must be involved with clinical trials... A lot of illnesses are affecting Black Americans, and if we aren't included in the drug population, then there is no way to know the drug will work for us" Danielle said.
Edward W., husband, and lung cancer survivor, shares his story of how he was diagnosed with lung cancer after retiring and several years of service to the United States Air Force. He described his experience with clinical trials as being positive. "When my doctor asked if I wanted to participate in clinical trials, I thought why not? If it helps someone else down the road, let's go for it". He is now on his second trial.
Bishop Jeffery Goldsmith of Emmanuel Tabernacle Church in Oklahoma City shares his perspective as a faith leader of his community and recognizes the importance of advancing science while keeping the faith. When these pieces come together, they show up in what he calls the “human element” in this instance it shows up as clinical trials. “I feel that in my heart, the cure is already there. We just have to discover where it is”. He also mentioned that "I know some members of my community might be skeptical about clinical trials, but we need to recognize when we are being presented with an opportunity and not be left out".
What Can You Do Next?
Support provided in part by Catalent, Daiichi Sankyo, Genentech, Merk, Novartis, and Novocure.
Blog last updated: June 20, 2023