Research found no racial or ethnic disparities among patients who participate in the Blood and Marrow Transplantation (BMT) Program at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI). The results were published in a recent issue of the journal Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation.
Theresa Hahn, PhD, Professor of Oncology in the Department of Medicine at RPCI and senior author of the study, notes that while rates of hematologic malignancy referrals and use of BMT for minorities may appear low (less than 10%), they closely reflect both the racial distribution of all BMT cases and the general population within the 8 Western New York counties surrounding the Buffalo cancer center. The population-based cohort study included more than 1,100 patients, primarily from eight Western New York counties. Race and ethnicity were based on self-report at the time of initial registration at RPCI.
The study found that referrals for BMT did not significantly differ by race. The percentage of African Americans who were referred for transplant was 7%, and the referral rate for other minority races/ethnicities was 2.5%. These proportions directly compare to the general Western New York population, which is comprised of 8% African Americans and 2% other racial/ethnic minorities.
The study also examined participation in various research initiatives, including clinical trials, scientific surveys and contributions to the RPCI DataBank and Biorespository. Participation in clinical trials was similar for European Americans (62%) and African Americans (57%). A high proportion of African Americans (95%) provided a biospecimen for future research, which was identical to the rate for European Americans. However, European Americans are more likely than African Americans to participate in survey research (43% versus 17%, respectively). Potential reasons for this difference may include the length of the survey (45-47 pages), how often patients are asked about research participation and who approaches them. Further studies will help illuminate this finding.
"We strive to provide high-quality care to all populations. While our study shows that there is no race-based disparity in referrals to RPCI, the information we learned was incredibly important and will help us to enhance our outreach to minority and underserved communities. Minority participation in research is very important so we can learn how to better serve the growing minority populations in our community," says Dr. Hahn.
Philip McCarthy, MD, Director of the BMT program at Roswell Park and a co-author of the study, notes, "It is critically important for patients of all races and ethnicities to be offered this potentially life-saving treatment and the opportunity to participate in research studies so we can learn how to improve BMT outcomes."
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