A new pilot project aimed at increasing the number of Black, Asian and ethnic minority women taking part in pioneering breast cancer clinical trials has been announced today (Thursday 31 August).
A collaboration between Barts Health NHS Trust, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Roche Products Ltd and Macmillan Cancer Support, the project aims to improve health equity by raising awareness, improving communication and providing more support to people with breast cancer from Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities by increasing their representation in clinical trials for the disease. The project is supported by the NHS Race and Health Observatory.
Running until August 2024, the pilot project will design new ways for people from these communities who have breast cancer to access clinical trials and identify new, better ways to share information with them in a meaningful way.
It will also involve recruitment of two specialist nurses – one at Barts Health, the other at The Christie – who will work closely with patients, providing them with one-on-one support throughout their clinical trial experience – from discussions around joining, to follow-up appointments.
Multiple barriers exist in relation to recruitment and retention of Black, Asian and ethnic minority women in clinical trials. Historically, data from across the UK show people from an ethnic minority background are underrepresented in many clinical trials, with granular data limited. This project aims to change that.
Research from the UK Health Security Agency and Breast Cancer. Org shows that when it comes to breast cancer, young Black women in particular have more aggressive tumour profiles, present with later stages of disease, have higher mortality rates, and experience poorer cancer care. In addition, we know that trials must include participants from all communities if we’re to be confident that new treatments benefit everyone with the disease. This further strengthens the rationale for this project, and the need to increase participation from these groups in clinical trials.
Dr Peter Hall, a medical oncology consultant at Barts Health who is involved in the project said: “It’s well known that we need to do more to improve the diversity of participants taking part in the clinical trials we run at Barts Health and indeed, across the NHS. That’s why I’m so excited about this project.
“By taking a targeted approach to driving diversity in clinical trials for a specific disease, we can not only improve representation for this condition, but learn how we can do this for trials into other conditions too. Ultimately it will help us be more confident that the treatments we’re providing really do work for everyone. It’s also great to see this project being run as a collaboration between the NHS, charity and the commercial sector.”
The project is in its early stages, but since August 2023 the collaboration has started to identify a number of solutions to improve representation of people from Black and ethnic minority communities into breast cancer clinical trials, including:
- creating communications that are targeted and meaningful to the communities the project is aiming to reach
- increasing data, comparative baselines and patient retention records for research purposes
- providing enhanced support to ensure breast cancer patients understand the disease, what clinical research is and navigating patients to suitable clinical trials.
Findings and recommendations from the project will be used to create a case study and framework for future clinical trials.
Speaking on the project, Dr Habib Naqvi, Chief Executive of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, Dr, said: “We are pleased to announce this partnership and our joint commitment to ensuring inclusion and representation in future breast cancer trials. Initial research has traditionally found limitations in recruiting representative samples for clinical trials across breast cancer and other life limiting conditions. However, we believe that when targeted, culturally sensitive interventions and communications are put in place, underrepresented groups can be successfully recruited into clinical trials. There is no ‘hard to reach’ community when it comes to addressing potentially fatal health conditions.”
Recruitment advertising for the two specialist nursing posts will run from October 2023.