Racial Disparities in Oncology Clinical Trials

A new study in JAMA Oncology reports the existence of racial disparities in clinical trials leading to cancer drug approvals from 2008-2018. The authors state that blacks (22% of expected proportion) and Hispanics (44% of expected proportion) were underrepresented in these trials relative to their proportion among the US cancer population.

Figure 1, Part C: The absolute number of patients of races other than white who participated in pivotal trials leading to FDA approval was considerably low. From: Loree JM, Anand S, Dasari A, et al. Disparity of Race Reporting and Representation in Clinical Trials Leading to Cancer Drug Approvals From 2008 to 2018. JAMA Oncol. Published online August 15, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2019.1870

Back in 2004, a study published in JAMA indicated that racial and ethnic minorities, women, and the elderly were less likely to enroll in cooperative group cancer clinical trials than were whites, men, and younger patients, respectively. A more recent ProPublica examination showed that black people and Native Americans are under-represented in clinical trials of new drugs, even when the treatment is aimed at a type of cancer that disproportionately affects them.

Dr. Mona Fouad suggests that one possible strategy to increase minority participation in clinical trials may be patient navigators. A 2016 study she co-authored on patient navigation demonstrated that the patient navigation model “holds promise as a strategy to reduce disparities in cancer clinical trial participation” and that “future studies should evaluate it with racial/ethnic minorities across cancer centers.”

Get More out of PubMed with My NCBI

My NCBI is a tool that provides a customized database searching experience for PubMed and all the other databases within the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Users can save articles and search strategies as well as create automated email alerts and customize preferences in how they interact and search PubMed. My NCBI is also a key component to keeping publications in compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy, through My Bibliography’s integration with eRA Commons. Creating a My NCBI account is quick and easy!

Here’s a breakdown of some popular features:

  1. Keeping track of research
    • My NCBI allows users to Save Searches (including applied filters), so that they can be run again and even displays how many new articles have been added since the last time the search strategy was executed.
    • The Save Search feature allows users to set the format (what citation information they want to see) and how frequently email alerts should be delivered.
    • Organize articles in Collections, which can be continually added to, and can even be made public with a shareable URL to send to colleagues and collaborators.
  2. Customizing search experience
    • Filters allow for customized categories to be identified and filtered from a search strategy. Up to 12 filters can be added to a user’s account at a time, and they range from general topics such as English language, Clinical Trials, Reviews, and Humans, to more complex and customized filters such as the Cancer subset topic search, and even specific search strategies.
    • Edit and customize Preferences, such as the number of references per page, the layout (Summary, Abstract), and the default sort (Most Recent, Best Match, etc), as well as linking accounts, setting up delegates, and much more.
    • Add Highlighting to search terms found in titles and abstracts for quick and easy scanning for relevant articles.
  3. Staying compliant
    • The My Bibliography portion of My NCBI serves as a place to organize and store a user’s publications.
    • This section links to eRA Commons, so that users can quickly identify which of their publications are NIH-compliant and address those papers that are not.

Predatory Journals Revisited

I recently was asked by a library user about how to distinguish a good publisher’s or conference organizer’s invitation from a predatory one. She often receives emails inviting her to review journal submissions, present a meeting abstract, publish a paper, or speak at a conference.

These types of invitations continue to pose a challenge for the research community and those wanting to share their research findings. Typically, a publication that proactively pursues research manuscripts from the scientific and medical communities, falsifies information about their editorial board, has a poor peer-review system, and is focused on obtaining publication costs and assuring the researcher that their work will get published, are the ones that should raise a red flag.

What can a researcher do to ensure they submit their manuscript to a reputable journal?  There is a website entitled, “Think. Check. Submit.”, which was developed by several organizations focused on scholarly communications activities. They partnered together in response to issues involving deceptive publishing, and developed an awareness campaign and easy-to-use checklist that researchers can consult when investigating whether a journal can be trusted.

The MSK Library staff can also help researchers to ensure they submit to the right journal by investigating email invitations received by authors. We can check impact factors, where the journals/conferences are indexed, contact information, and editorial board members’ credentials and subject expertise.

If you need to distinguish between trustworthy and predatory journals, don’t hesitate to reach out and ASK US.

Donna Gibson
Director of Library Services