Representation of African-Americans, Hispanics, and whites in National Cancer Institute cancer treatment trials

Heriberto A. Tejeda, Sylvan B. Green, Edward L. Trimble, Leslie Ford, Joseph L. High, Richard S. Ungerleider, Michael A. Friedman, Otis W. Brawley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The National Cancer Institute (NCI)-sponsored clinical trials cooperative groups place more than 25 000 American patients in treatment trials every year. Equal access and proportional representation of all races/ethnicities is desired. Purpose: Our objectives were to evaluate the inclusion of African-Americans, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic whites in NCI- sponsored treatment trials and to determine if there is proportional racial/ethnic representation. Methods: During the period of January 1, 1991, through June 30, 1994, 99 495 cancer patients were enrolled in clinical trials and declared themselves as non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic white, or Hispanic (of any race). In the analysis, participants in NCI treatment trials were subdivided into three age groups: birth to 19 years, 20-49 years, and 50 or more years. The racial/ethnic composition of each of these age groups was compared with the racial/ethnic makeup of the American population with cancer. Estimates of the number of incident cancer cases per year were made for each racial/ethnic group within each age group using data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program and the 1990 Census. The percentage of all cancer patients who were in each racial/ethnic group were compared with the population that entered clinical trials. Comparisons are also made separately for patients with leukemia and breast, colorectal, lung, and prostate cancers. Results: Among patients 0-19 years old, 20-49 years old, and 50 years old or older there is relatively proportional representation of non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, and non- Hispanic whites in trials. It is noted that more than 70% of cancer patients aged 0-19 years are estimated to enter cooperative group clinical trials compared with 4.0% of cancer patients aged 20-49 years and 1.5% of patients aged 50 years or older. Conclusions: Accrual of American cancer patients to NCI-sponsored treatment trials generally parallels the incident burden of disease among non-Hispanic African-Americans, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic whites. Implications: This study shows that the NCI clinical trials are, as a whole, racially/ethnically representative of the American population and suggests that there is equal access to NCI clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)812-816
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 19 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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