Seattle, Washington – A study revealed that patients with low income are not able to participate in cancer treatment trials. The research was published by Joseph M. Unger, Ph.D., from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and some colleagues, in the journal JAMA Oncology.
The research showed how the relation between the patients and their income affected their possibilities to participate in cancer trials. For patients, clinical trials are a vital resource, and the majority of cancer patients, regardless of income, do not partake in the trials.
They looked at over 1,000 cancer patients for six months, and analyzed the relationship between participation in the trials and income, after taking in consideration important factors such as sex race, education and stages of the disease. After doing the research, they found that only 1,262 (80 percent) from 1581 patients that were diagnosed with colorectal, lung or breast cancer were eligible.
Hutchinson explained how important is the fact that every patient, regardless of its income, must have the possibility to be part of these medical trials and have access to all resources.
“The research benefits because you can do trials more quickly and they would be more representative. For patients, clinical trials are a vital resource, so there shouldn’t be a disparity depending on your income,” said Hutchinson in JAMAL’s journal.
Low income, low possibilities
After doing the research for six months, Hutchinson divided the 1,000 patients into three different groups. According to their incomes their participation in cancer’s trials presented variations: patients making over $50,000 a year, 17 percent participated in trials. Between 20,000$ and $49,000, 13 percent participation. In the lowest income, under $20,000 only 11 percent volunteered.
“We need to do a lot more at the community level to educate people about the importance of clinical trials and to let them know that once they go through traditional treatments, there may be other options for them. We put things on the Internet and have elaborate documents about how clinical trials work, but we really need to go to where the people are and talk to them,” said Beti Thomson, a doctor art Health Disparities Research Center at Fred Hutchinson about the fact that low-income patients are not able to find out about their trials because they’re not are able to afford them.
Moreover, the study also found that for low-income patients these clinical trials included additional expenses, making it more inaccessible from what already is. Those additional expenses are, for example, child care, time away from work and transport to the trial site. For these reasons, the health of these patients deteriorates faster than those patients who can pay for trials.
Finally, Hutchinson expressed their preoccupation and further recommended to clinicians to be abreast of the needs of low-income group patients, who could be more sensitive to participate and pay the expensive cost of cancer’s trials.
“Since clinical trial treatments represent the newest available treatments, access to this vital resource should be available to individuals of all income levels,” the researchers concluded.
Source: Medical Daily